FRANKFURT -- Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn says the company's push into self-guided vehicles will give it a leadership position in the same way that its embrace of electric vehicles did.
Consumers will credit Nissan with pushing the technology, which Nissan Executive Vice President Andy Palmer said last month would be in production by 2020. Speaking to reporters, Ghosn said that he expects autonomous driving systems to be reliable and affordable by then.
"What we are saying is that in 2020 all the problems that we have in allowing autonomous driving will be solved," he said.
Ghosn said autonomous cars have the potential to expand the automotive market by enabling elderly persons who might not be able to drive to continue using motor vehicles for personal transportation. He also said that it will enable people to make better use of time spent in traffic.
"On average, people spend two hours a day in a car, which means that a lot of people spend more than two hours," Ghosn said. "This is wasted time."
Palmer, in a separate media session, said Nissan sees two major priorities for the future: zero emissions, which it is addressing with EVs, and zero fatalities.
A sophisticated autonomous driving system could react faster than human beings to possible collisions with other cars or with pedestrians, he said.
He added that autonomous cars could win the interest of young buyers who today have lost interest in driving and vehicle ownership, in part because they could text and use social media in the car.
Combined with EVs, it could be an attractive package for young consumers who have soured on cars for environmental reasons.
"I think it's our obligation to find ways of bringing those customers back to market," he said. "I think that zero emission, autonomous driving, connected -- this is the way of bringing people back."
Palmer said Nissan will show a sports car concept at the Tokyo Motor Show addressing those customer tastes.