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Tomorrow’s cars — connected, electric and driverless

Connected. Electric. Driverless.

This is where cars are heading, and the future isn’t so far away.

In a keynote speech Thursday to a packed theater during CES 2017, executives with the conglomerate made up of carmakers Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors discussed the technology and strategy that by 2030 will have 15 percent of cars autonomous and 25 percent electric.

And, perhaps the most immediate game changer in consumer manufacturing, by Nissan estimates, 100 percent of cars will be connected to the internet by 2025.

“We’ll see more change in the next 10 years than we did in the last 50,” said Carlos Ghosn, chairman of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi.


Meanwhile, at a CES floor display run by carmaker Volkswagen in the Las Vegas Convention Center, Christian Wick showed the CEO of a South Korean LED lamp manufacturer how he can see what’s at his house’s front door from a screen on his car dashboard.

An internet-connected doorbell made by German company Bird Home Automation sends video to a smartphone, which then displays in the Volkswagen.

While the technology is there, the difficulty for getting more services like this is getting disparate companies together to write compatible programs.

“We need everyone to speak the same language,” Wick said.

Across the room of exhibitors, Integrity Security Services business development director Greg Rudy explained how his company certifies manufacturers to show whose products will work with different car makes and models.

“It’s a headache, to be honest,” Rudy said.


At the keynote, Nissan senior vice president of research and advanced engineering Takao Asami detailed a future where cars can connect to houses and act as a source of clean energy to power the homes.

Senior vice president of connected vehicles and mobility services Ogi Redzic showed the potential for internet-connected and sensor-loaded cars by talking to a car that shared the stage.

Such a car can park itself, tell the driver when maintenance is needed and even talk to the driver about upcoming events on his or her calendar, he said, joined by a voiceover representing virtual assistant software packaged with such cars.

Nissan has partnered with Microsoft to offer the technology giant’s virtual assistant software, called Cortana, inside new cars, he said.

With less time spent looking at the road, cars will become new entertainment centers. Nissan has partnered with Bose to supply better sound in cars, Redzic said.


The next edition of Nissan’s Leaf electric car will have software to let it drive by itself. But the company will still employ humans to monitor the cars so that someone can help the car drive a new route when approaching a road block, Nissan Research Center director Maarten Sierhuis said.

The technology is based on what NASA uses to guide rovers on other planets. To believe cars can ever exist without a human ever involved in some part of a ride is fiction, Sierhuis said.

“It is not just a luxury,” he said of Nissan’s system to let people remotely help driverless cars. “It is a necessity.”


On Friday, Nissan will demonstrate the system from CES. A person in Las Vegas will help a driverless car in California.

Ghosn, the chairman, said his car companies want to partner with cities to talk about how new technology can help ease congestion and sustain population growth.

Changes to cars over time will solve problems and raise new questions. But Ghosn invited the crowd to maintain communication with carmakers about what they want and what they expect.

“Tell us,” he said. “We are listening.”

CES 2017 officially began on Thursday. It’s Las Vegas’ largest trade show and expected to draw 175,000 visitors. The show, staged by the Arlington, Virginia-based Consumer Technology Association, concludes on Sunday.

Contact Wade Tyler Millward at 702-383-4602 or wmillward@reviewjournal.com. On Twitter: @wademillward

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