The Renault-Nissan alliance had previously promised that it would begin rolling out vehicles with autonomous capabilities by 2020, and despite reports to the contrary, CEO Carlos Ghosn has confirmed that in just four years 10 vehicles will emerge with autonomous technology.
The group has confirmed that throughout 2020 mainstream mass-market vehicles with autonomous capabilities will be made available to consumers at “affordable prices”.
The alliance has effectively developed a “technology tool kit” which includes the hardware and software elements required to drive the autonomous systems. Nissan, Renault and Infiniti will be able to pick and choose from those elements and integrate them into their vehicles as required.
The convergence of Nissan and Renault’s engineering departments in 2014 has led to reduced duplication in creating next-generation technologies, allowing for the faster development of essential technology.
With a research and development budget of US$5 billion (A$7.2 billion) Renault-Nissan is looking to a “zero emissions and zero fatalities” future. Already over 300,000 of Nissan’s Leaf electric vehicle have been sold, making it the front-runner in zero emissions vehicles.
Improvements to safety in Nissan’s vehicle range have seen fatal and serious injuries in Nissan vehicles drop by 61 percent over the last 20 years, while fatal and serious injuries in Renault vehicles in France have tumbled by 80 percent in 15 years.
The introduction of autonomous drive technologies, as previewed by Nissan’s Piloted Drive and IDS concept car is expected to improve things even further by removing driver error, a factor in 90 percent of all fatalities.
“Renault-Nissan Alliance is deeply committed to the twin goals of ‘zero emissions and zero fatalities,’” Renault-Nissan Alliance Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn said.
“That’s why we are developing autonomous driving and connectivity for mass-market, mainstream vehicles on three continents.”
But the introduction of autonomous technologies doesn’t necessarily mean a fully autonomous vehicle, and the gradual introduction of Nissan and Renault’s new systems will likely result in semi-autonomous operation, paving the way for further developments as legislation catches up around the world.
No word yet on which vehicles will be the first to pick up the newly developed autonomous technology either, but with four years of concepts ahed, Renault and Nissan are sure to offer plenty of clues as to what we can expect, and which model lines will be first with the technology.