The next Nissan Leaf electric car will be built with the brand’s newly-developed ProPilot technology, enabling autonomous driving on single-lane roads.
Plans for the car have been revealed as part of a keynote speech by Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The new Nissan Leaf is expected to replace the current car (above) at a date that the brand will not currently reveal – industry sources suggest that 2018 is likely.
A next-generation Leaf will certainly offer a much greater range than the current car – based on the example of the IDS concept shown at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2015, a 340-mile capability is predicted.
The Leaf is the world’s best-selling EV with more than 250,000 sold. In the process its makers claim to have saved more than 497,000 tons of CO2 emissions – equivalent to those of 52,000 US homes.
Nissan adds that it focusing on vehicle electrification and diversifying its powertrains and fuel systems to suit markets around the world. As well as the core electric vehicle (EV) technology it is developing e-Power hybrids and e-bio fuel-cell vehicles.
Other technology being explored includes using the batteries of EVs not just for driving but to store energy for a number of home and society uses.
Ghosn’s speech to the CES show, an event gaining increasing importance in the motor industry, focused mainly on autonomous technology and connected driving.
During the show Nissan demonstrated artificial intelligence in vehicles, by a link-up to a NASA research centre. Dubbed Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM) the technology is designed to allow millions of autonomous cars to operate safely and smoothly alongside each other.
SAM will ensure that autonomous vehicles do not make decisions on actions when they should not, for example if coming across an accident. Instead they will communicate with a human ‘Mobility Manager’ for advice, and in turn learn from the experience, while communicating with other SAM-equipped vehicles.
According to former NASA scientist Maarten Sierhuis, who is now director of the Nissan Research Center in Silicon Valley, the goal is to change the transportation infrastructure.
“We want to reduce fatalities and ease congestion – we need a huge number of vehicles out there,” says Sierhuis. “What we are doing at Nissan is finding a way so that we can have this future transportation system not in 20 years or more, but now.”
Ghosn also announced that the Renault-Nissan Alliance is continuing its partnership on the development and deployment of advanced connected technologies.
These include Microsoft Cortana, an in-vehicle virtual personal assistant that will allow the vehicle to adapt to personalised driver settings. The system will even understand different driver preferences in a shared vehicle, making each driver feel like they are in their own car.