Renault-Nissan Readies Mass-Market Autonomous Cars by 2020
Renault boss Carlos Ghosn has pledged that autonomous cars from his company will be pitched right at the heart of the mass market.
Opening the New York motor show with a keynote speech, Ghosn also said the car industry would change more in the next five years than in the next 20.
He noted that the key developments would be the growth of electric cars in response to stricter air quality and emissions reduction targets, greater connectivity in cars as more technology firms entered the industry and the adoption of autonomous cars.
He made the distinction between autonomous cars and driverless ones, saying that he expects a car to be able to drive itself through a city with the driver’s hands off the wheel by 2020, but with the driver being able to take back full control at any time. Full driverless cars with the driver not in the front seat were much further off, he said.
Ghosn said his company was lobbying governments around the world to make it legal for a driver to take their hands off the wheel and do something else, and he expects that to be resolved by 2020.
He also said the industry must embrace technology companies coming into the industry and not fear them. “We now have tremendous opportunities,” he added. “We can’t fear new companies coming in, we must embrace them and learn from them, and they must learn from us.”
Ghosn said it was unlikely Renault-Nissan would ever build cars for a tech company and that he doesn’t expect tech companies to be interested in building cars, as the margins are lower and the investment much greater.
On electric cars, he said the Leaf was the world’s best-selling electric car, but sales were still not as big as he originally predicted. He called on the need for better infrastructure for electric cars, adding that fuel cell cars, despite their good technology, would struggle to take off because the infrastructure challenge for them is greater still.
But, said Ghosn, the global commitment to reduce CO2 emissions at a recent summit in Paris made the widespread adoption of electric cars inevitable.