By Mike Davey
Sunnyvale, California — January 7, 2016 — Autonomous vehicles (AVs) aren’t as far off as they once seemed. Readers of collisionrepairmag.com know that the technological challenges are rapidly being conquered, but a recent announcement from the Renault-Nissan Alliance isn’t about a new kind of laser detection system or software suite. The global car group has announced it will launch more than 10 vehicles with autonomous capabilities in the next four years.
However, they may not be coming here, at least not quite yet. The announcement from the Renault-Nissan Alliance says the vehicles will be available “… in the United States, Europe, Japan and China through 2020.” Canada isn’t on the list. Collision Repair magazine reached out to Renault-Nissan to confirm this, but they had not responded to our query at the time of publication.
One thing we do know: these will not be luxury vehicles. According to a press release from the company, “the technology will be installed on mainstream, mass-market cars at affordable prices.” Renault-Nissan Alliance Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn confirmed that the vehicles would be mass-market during a briefing at the Renault-Nissan Silicon Valley Research Center.
“Renault-Nissan Alliance is deeply committed to the twin goals of ‘zero emissions and zero fatalities,’” said Ghosn. “That’s why we are developing autonomous driving and connectivity for mass-market, mainstream vehicles on three continents.”
If you believe in the saying “putting your money where your mouth is,” then it’s absolutely certain that Renault-Nissan is committed to this. The Alliance has an annual research and development budget of about $7 billion CAD, with four research centres and numerous engineering centres around the world. The Renault-Nissan Silicon Valley Research Center was officially opened in 2013 to specialize in autonomous vehicles and connected cars. It looks like that investment in research is paying off.
Further showing the organization’s commitment, the Renault-Nissan Alliance also announced the hiring of tech executive Ogi Redzic to lead the group’s connected car initiative as Senior VP, Connected Vehicles and Mobility Services. Redzic joins Renault-Nissan after positions at Nokia, NAVTEQ, Motorola, and at wireless communication startup cyberPIXIE. He most recently served as Senior Vice President, Automotive at Nokia HERE, where he led the Automotive Business Group.