Nissan & Renault Alliance Prepares Launch of Driverless 'Robo-Vehicles'
A spokesperson from the Nissan and Renault Alliance told Driverless the group is testing self-driving electric "robo-vehicles" for future mobility services and is "not ruling out anything" for future services the group might offer, as the alliance widens its driverless business model to include both fleets and private sales.
However, the spokesperson said a Reuters report from early Thursday purporting that Nissan and Renault have set plans to launch a fleet of ride-sharing cars "takes some liberties."
The Alliance is currently testing self-driving vehicles (robo-vehicles) for future development of services taking advantage of our EV leadership and experience. The timing, other than a 10-year horizon, or structure has not been communicated yet.
The Alliance spokesperson's comments reflect a recent conversation this writer had with Ogi Redzic, head of Nissan-Renault's connected vehicles and mobility services division. Redzic said the Nissan and Renault Alliance was developing a range of services, which included fleet and car-sharing services.
These services are expected to help boost Nissan's and Renault's worldwide sales, and as a new business model, will widen the services the Alliance companies offer, he said.
"As a car company, we will design cars for different applications as part of a mobility services model, including fleet and car-sharing programs," Redzic said.
Ongoing Nissan and Renault Alliance driverless projects include a partnership with French transport company Transdev to jointly develop a driverless vehicle fleet system with Renault Zoe EVs for future public and on-demand transportation. The Alliance also announced at CES it is beginning tests with Japanese internet company DeNA in view of developing driverless vehicles for commercial services in Tokyo by 2020. Self-driving car startup Nutonomy is also using Zoe models in fleet tests in the Boston area.
For retail sales, Nissan is rolling out Level 2 driving capabilities called ProPilot, which it debuted in its Serena minivan in Japan last year. The Japanese carmaker will also offer ProPilot in its Qashqai and X-Trail flagship SUV in Europe by end of next year, as Nissan tries to secure its place as a leading driverless OEM in the mainstream sector by offering advanced self-drive features outside of Japan for the first time. It is also set to offer ProPilot in its Leaf EV, but has not disclosed a timeline.
The Nissan and Renault Alliance is thus taking a two-pronged approach by developing both driverless fleet services and vehicles for private sales. While Nissan, and eventually Renault, should offer self-drive features in vehicles for private sales in incremental steps, the Alliance is laying the groundwork for possible taxi-like services in cities as well as other mobility services.