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Nissan Gears Up to Go Driverless: Autonomous Mobility Services Set to Zoom Across Japan by 2027

YOKOHAMA, Japan – In a move that might make sci-fi fans do a double take, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. has unveiled plans to launch its own brand of autonomous-drive mobility services across Japan by fiscal year 2027. Nissan is shifting gears from traditional car manufacturing to become a trailblazer in the realm of self-driving vehicles, aiming to tackle local transportation issues head-on.

The announcement is part of Nissan’s ambitious “Nissan Ambition 2030” vision, which seeks to revolutionize mobility in Japan. The country, grappling with a dwindling number of drivers due to an ageing population, is eagerly awaiting Nissan’s futuristic solution. These driverless wonders promise to address the shortage of drivers and offer a range of services to ensure everyone gets around freely and effortlessly.

Since 2017, Nissan has been playing the role of a mobility maestro, orchestrating tests of business models for these services both in Japan and overseas. The company has been fine-tuning its approach in areas like the Minato Mirai in Yokohama and Namie town in Fukushima Prefecture. The latter saw the launch of the manned “Namie Smart Mobility” service in 2021. Even beyond Japan’s borders, Nissan has been busy road-testing its autonomous-drive mobility in London, with a thumbs-up from the UK government.

Armed with insights from these tests, Nissan is now revving up to launch its driverless services in fiscal 2027. The plan is to collaborate with local authorities and transport operators, starting with trial runs in the Minato Mirai area in fiscal 2024. These trials are set to escalate in scope and scale over the following year, eventually leading to the grand unveiling of a driverless service.

Here’s a quick roadmap of what to expect:

  • Fiscal Year 2024: Test drives in Yokohama’s Minato Mirai area using a Serena minivan kitted out for autonomous driving.
  • Fiscal Years 2025-2026: Demonstrations in Yokohama, including areas like Minato Mirai, Sakuragi-cho, and Kannai, featuring a fleet of 20 vehicles (initially with drivers).
  • Fiscal Year 2027: Launch plans in three to four municipalities, including rural areas, with a fleet of tens of vehicles. Discussions with several municipalities are already in top gear.

This high-tech venture is receiving a turbo boost from the Japanese government, with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, all in the driver’s seat. They’re steering the “Level 4 Mobility Acceleration Committee” to fast-track the realization of these new, autonomous mobility services.

In short, Nissan is on a mission to drive Japan into the future, and it seems nothing will put the brakes on their ambitious journey.

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