Nissan Leaf named 2011 World Car of the Year

After months of speculation, the 2011 World Car of the Year was announced at the New York International Auto Show, with the all-electric Nissan Leaf taking home the top prize.

The Leaf had some tough competition, as it went up against two luxury heavyweights in the form of the Audi A8 and BMW 5 Series. When the votes were tallied, however, it was the electric compact that was standing tall.

"It is a great joy that the world's first, mass-marketed electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf, has won the prestigious award," said Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.

Nissan's first EV, along with the Chevrolet Volt, have garnered quite a bit of attention as the first mass-produced electric vehicles. But of the two, the Leaf is more dedicated to the concept of electric power. The Volt has a gas generator that kicks in at high speeds or when the motor runs out of juice, but the Leaf functions solely on electricity.

The Leaf was released in the U.S. in December, but is still only available in limited quantities. Nissan plans to ramp up production in the coming months to meet demand.

Drivers in the market for a fuel-efficient vehicle will likely consider the leaf, but it comes with quite the price tag even after a federal tax credit. Buyers might be better served waiting till it hits the used car market.