UK PLC should think itself lucky to have been awarded a contract to build the Nissan Leaf.

Although the government has been pressing the industry flesh and waving around the country’s chequebook, the whole plan was nearly torpedoed.

Nissan Leaf's Sunderland deal

The Olympic Committee’s decision to award the 2012 vehicle contract to BMW, de-stabilised the carefully laid industrial plans that would have seen Leaf production announced alongside Nissan winning the Olympic vehicle bid.

I drove the final Leaf prototype in Japan last October and have to say it was very impressive. Very quick, very smooth and the single gear ratio gave the car an unparalleled quality of seamless acceleration.

Have no doubt that the Leaf has been thoroughly and thoughtfully engineered. However, I can’t see the Leaf becoming a runaway hit with private buyers.

It will be relatively expensive, even with a government subsidy. So it’s most likely to be best as a second, commuting car for affluent eco-conscious drivers with a private parking space.