Electric Nissan Leaf named World Car of the Year

Updated at 7:09 p.m. ET

NEW YORK - Nissan's Leaf electric car was named the 2011 World Car of the Year at the New York International Auto Show Thursday.

According to CBSNews.com's sister site CNET, the Leaf was named a runner-up for the World Green Car award. The Chevy Volt won the Green award.

The top three competitors for the World Car Award were the Leaf, the Audi A8 and the BMW 5-series. Jurors said, "The Leaf is the gateway to a brave new electric world." They noted its zero emissions and its generally carlike performance.

The World Car Awards organization is not affiliated with any publication. It uses a set of jurors chosen from among automotive journalists.

Other winners were the Ferrari 458 Italia as the World Performance Car and the Aston Martin Rapide for World Design Car.

The news comes a day after Nissan Motor Co. announced it will resume taking U.S. reservations for the electric car on May 1.

Nissan Leaf recalled for software glitch

Nissan Americas Chairman Carlos Tavares said Wednesday that Leaf production remains on track despite the March 11 earthquake that devastated Japan and briefly closed the plant where the Leaf is made. The first shipment of Leafs made after the earthquake is due to arrive in Los Angeles next week, he said. There are 127 Leafs on that ship.

Special Section: Disaster in Japan

Nissan stopped taking U.S. reservations for the Leaf last September when it reached 20,000 reservations. The Leaf went on sale in December and the company has delivered around 500 Leafs to U.S. buyers so far, Tavares said.

Gallery: Cool on display at the New York Auto Show

Tavares acknowledged some complaints about the long wait for a Leaf, which is currently four to seven months in the U.S. He said the company rolled out the vehicle slowly so it could iron out any problems, although the launch hasn't been trouble-free. Nissan recently told all 5,300 Leaf owners worldwide that the car has a software glitch that can keep it from starting. Nissan has offered to fix the problem at owners' homes or offices in addition to at dealerships.

Tavares said most customers have been understanding about the wait. Some joked that they have waited for an electric car for 20 years, so a few more months won't matter, he said.

"They recognize the importance of getting it right versus getting it now," Tavares said during a speech at the New York Auto Show.

But Tavares said the company plans to accelerate production in the coming weeks and cut the wait time for a Leaf to three or four months. All current orders will be filled by this summer, he said.

Reservations will first reopen in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. People who have signed up on Nissan's Leaf Web site will get first dibs on reservations, which are held with a refundable $99 deposit. Not all reservation holders eventually place orders for the car, which costs around $25,000 after applying a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Brian Carolin, Nissan's senior vice president for sales in North America, said Tuesday that Nissan expects to meet its goal of selling more than 10,000 Leafs in the U.S. this year.