Nissan will bring real-world demonstrations of autonomous driving cars to Britain next month.
Showcasing next-generation technology through the world’s best-selling electric vehicle, the on-road demonstrations will take place in London, enabling the vehicles and their passengers to cover a diverse city environment.
Passengers, including government officials and technical and safety experts, will be given the opportunity to experience and test the technology in a live environment in a modified Nissan LEAF.
These will be the first demonstrations of Nissan’s autonomous drive technology on public roads in Europe, representing the next step in Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility blueprint for transforming how cars are driven, powered, and integrated into wider society.
It follows recent announcements that both the refreshed Qashqai and the new LEAF, both coming soon, will be equipped with autonomous drive technology to enable single lane autonomous driving on motorways.
The announcement was made following a visit to the Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE) in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, by the Rt Hon Greg Clark, the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
NTCE, the European R&D hub for Nissan, is developing autonomous drive technologies as well as new advanced fuel, energy and efficiency technologies, in collaboration with the Nissan Technical Centre and Advanced Technical Centre in Japan.
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “Government and industry are working together to build on our world class reputation for excellence as a leading location for automotive R&D and manufacturing. We want to see centres, like Nissan’s here in Cranfield, continue to develop, making us a world leader in the development and testing of auto technology so we can anchor the next generation of vehicle manufacturing and its supply chain here in the UK.”
During the visit Mr Clark saw how the Nissan Technical Centre is the company’s European centre of excellence for the design and development of vehicles produced in the UK and across the continent.
Opened in 1991, NTCE is now home to around 1,200 employees. Current projects include the development of vehicle-to-grid technology integration, electric battery advancements and the new Nissan Qashqai, which is scheduled to launch in fiscal year ‘17. The original crossover – and Nissan’s best-selling vehicle in Europe – versions of the new Qashqai will be available to customers with autonomous drive functionality for single-lane driving on the motorway.
Just last week Nissan announced that a new LEAF will be coming soon, also equipped with the same autonomous drive technology, and Mr Clark was given a preview of the technology with a demonstration around the grounds of the technical centre.
Paul Willcox, Chairman, Nissan Europe, said: “It was our pleasure to welcome the Secretary of State to the Nissan Technical Centre Europe in Cranfield and to show him how we don’t just make great cars in the UK, we create future technology here too.
“Innovation and ingenuity is at the heart of the Nissan brand and its people. We’ve been developing that pioneering spirit for over half a century in Europe and for over 30 years in Britain. With future models secured and cutting-edge innovation being developed right here in the UK, we’re looking forward to a strong future of designing, engineering and manufacturing in the country for customers right across the world.”
He added: “In just a few weeks’ time, there will be Nissan LEAFs driving on the streets of London using our autonomous driving technology. Nissan Intelligent Mobility is happening right now, right here in the UK and across Europe.”
Last year marked Nissan’s 30th anniversary in the UK, with employment in Nissan’s UK technical centre, design studio (Paddington, London), manufacturing plant (Sunderland, Tyne and Wear) and sales and marketing operations (Maple Cross, Hertfordshire) now totalling more than 8,000. A further 28,000 jobs in Nissan’s UK supply chain and 4,000 in its UK dealer network takes the total British jobs supported by Nissan to more than 40,000.