Nissan makes self driving tech a standard feature across all segments

The first of many

The first of many

Large OEMs roll out self-driving features in their mass market cars, while Tesla is still working on the software that one day will do the same for its ballyhooed Model S. “We will make automatic braking a standard feature on all volume-selling models in Japan, by the end of fall of 2015,” Nissan’s Executive Vice President Takao Katagiri said today during a launch event for the hybrid version of the X-Trail compact SUV in Oppama near Yokohama. At Nissan, you get the tech for free, with purchase of a new car.

The system uses a laser and a camera to measure the distance to the car ahead. If the car gets too close, an alarm sounds. If no action is taken, the car will brake itself. Last week, Toyota announced a similar system for its bread and butter Corolla.

“Emergency braking and other pre-crash safety features – once found only in high-end models – are growing in importance for consumers in developed markets, making them a hot new battleground for automakers,” writes Chang-Ran Kim at Reuters, and right she is, as usual. Thwe big news is not the tech itself. These systems have been available for years in high-end cars (except the Model S). The big news is that the tech goes mainstream, that it filters down through all segments. At Nissan, the sensor package even will be available in its Dayz Kei car.

Sensor technology, automatic braking, and automatic steering are key elements in the quest for self-driving cars. “In fiscal 2016, we are going to launch vehicles equipped with autonomous driving technologies in Japan,” Katagiri said today, underscoring similar announcements made by Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn a few days ago. Nissan is at the forefront of research into self-driving cars, and it has demonstrated self-driving cars for years, even with Japan’s Prime Minister Abe in the car. The bold step is to release that technology from the lab, and to make it commercially available.

While major OEMs equip their mass market cars with self-driving tech, Tesla develops mind-altering capabilities. “But aren’t other automakers also developing self-driving cars?” wrote Seekingalpha yesterday, and it continued: “Yes, but it appears to me that Tesla has been able to forge ahead of the pack.”

Not true at all, this is your brain on Tesla. Tesla is way behind the curve. While major carmakers make the technology a standard feature, Tesla sells it as an optional tech package for $4,250. However, 6 months after the launch of the Tesla tech package, it still is without software, making it as useful as a human without a brain.

Oh, and Nissan’s Kei car, the Dayz, starts at around $8,900.