Nissan Leaf drives into Europe

The first shipment of Nissan Leaf cars for Europe arrived in Sunderland on Thursday, on board the (energy efficient, of course) City of St. Petersburg carrier.

67 of the first truly practical mass-produced 100 per cent electric vehicles were on board, and are destined for pre-order customers in the UK and Ireland.

"The arrival of the Nissan Leaf, the world’s first affordable, all-electric car, in Europe is a landmark day for Nissan and European transport," said Simon Thomas, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Nissan International SA.

"The Nissan Leaf is a genuine alternative to petrol and diesel cars in terms of style, features, safety, performance and handling.

"It is fitting that this first shipment of Nissan Leafs is arriving on our new energy-saving car carrier, the City of St. Petersburg. We look forward to delivering these cars to the very first Nissan Leaf customers, who share our vision for an environmentally sustainable future for road transport."

Pre-orders for the Leaf are up to 27,000 worldwide and from 2013, units will actually be assembled for the UK in Sunderland, and a comprehensive charging network is also currently being constructed in the UK - there should be almost 9,000 charge points by 2013.

You've probably heard of the Leaf before as it's been a long time coming. If not, let us fill you in: It's is a 5-door mid-sized car that, from the outside at least, doesn't look to dissimilar to the other Japanese cars that are slowly beginning to dominate the UK's roads (save for a distinct lack of an exhaust pipe of course). 

What sets the Leaf apart though, is the fact that it is a zero-emission vehicle, running entirely on NEC produced, Lithium-ion batteries (48 of them). So that's good news for Mother Nature, and it's also good for your wallet as well. Even taking into account the UK's heavy reliance, still, on fossil fuels, the Leaf is already 50 per cent cleaner and, on average, will save you around £720 per year compared to a 1.5l diesel car (based on 15,000 miles of driving), or £1110 per year against a 2l petrol one. 

There's also some pretty cool kit on board too, with Nissan's Carwings console and an iPhone app as well.

Pocket-lint went out to Lisbon to test the Nissan Leaf back in October, and we loved it. Be sure to check out our hands on photo story.

The Nissan Leaf is available to order now, priced at at around £23,990 after government incentives, and there will be a personal contract purchase option. It's available in five colours in Europe - blue metallic and pearl, white pearl, silver metallic, black solid and red pearl and you'll get a 3-year warranty on all of your standard parts, and a 5-year one on all the electronic gubbins - including the battery.