Callegari said that following Propilot’s introduction to the UK market in the 2017 Qashqai, it would take “less than a decade” for it to trickle down into the Micra, meaning a sub-£10,000 car could feature this type of technology before 2026.
“Currently, the B-segment is still predominantly a three-pedal [manual gearbox] market, and it’s very much price driven,” explained Callegari. “But we expect that to change, and when it does Propilot will become appropriate.”
The 2017 Qashqai's Propilot system arrives as the first phase of autonomous technology to be fitted to Nissans. It can control the car's steering and brakes on certain types of roads such as motorways. A second level of autonomous technology is due to be rolled out in 2018, adding a multi-lane function.
Nissan and its partner Renault are due to launch 10 autonomous-able cars by 2020. The Japanese brand won’t confirm what model will get Propilot technology after the Qashqai, but Autocar sources are confident the all-electric Leaf, which is due to be replaced in 2018, is the most likely next candidate.
“Nissan still believes driver engagement is key, especially in the performance models,” he said. “Europe and the UK, in particular, is a good example, as customers still want to be in control of their cars. People still love driving here.”