The main subject of Ghosn’s keynote was upcoming autonomous and connected car technology, but Ghosn mentioned that the next Nissan Leaf would be fitted with Propilot technology – an autonomous system by Nissan which allows full autonomy on single-lane roads.
Ghosn refrained from putting a date on the next Leaf’s introduction, and a Nissan spokesman couldn’t reveal any more information on when the car will break cover, but it’s fair to expect a 2018 introduction, with the potential of a late 2017 reveal.
We expect the next Leaf to have a range of around 340 miles from a single charge, suggested on the IDS concept seen at the Tokyo motor show in 2015. The concept had a 60kWh battery pack which provided a range of between 310 and 340 miles. A potential approach is having tiers of battery range comprising the Leaf lineup, with more expensive cars featuring a more capacious battery pack.
The Nissan CEO’s keynote also highlighted artificial intelligence developed from NASA tech, which it calls ‘Seamless Autonomous Mobility’ (SAM), which combines human input with artificial intelligence to bridge the gap between roads populated with only human drivers and fully autonomous traffic.
The system builds the AI’s knowledge of what to do in unusual situations such as police waving people through traffic lights – something which would go against the car’s hard-wired logic - and, according to Nissan, will speed up the advent of fully autonomous cars by increasing their decision-making repertoire.
Also helping this on the way will be Nissan’s newly announced partnership with 100 Resilient Cities – which aims to ready cities around the world for the next generation of car technology, including mainstream autonomous and electric cars. The UK cities involved in this include Belfast, Bristol, London, Manchester and Glasgow.
Nissan is also looking into having Microsoft’s Cortana voice control system optimised for in-car use, continuing its partnership with Microsoft, joining the raft of manufacturers working on the function. Amazon is also reported to be bringing its Alexa voice system to the automotive sphere.
Another growing trend which Nissan is involved with is the trial of autonomous vehicles on public roads; the brand has teamed up with internet company DeNA to test electric commercial vehicles around the streets in designated areas of Tokyo. The scheme is aimed at becoming a commercially available service by 2020.