Though it’s increasingly apparent that the arrival of self-driving cars is only a matter of time, few in the industry are willing to forecast the exact date autonomous technology will be ready for consumers – that is, except for Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.
Speaking at a French Automobile Club event earlier this week, Ghosn predicted that autonomous vehicles could be traveling the highways and byways of “pioneer countries” like France, Japan and the United States as early as 2018. However, he added that significant legal issues must be resolved before self-driving cars show up on dealer lots.
“The problem isn’t technology, it’s legislation, and the whole question of responsibility that goes with these cars moving around … and especially who is responsible once there is no longer anyone inside,” Ghosn told Automotive News.
Google made headlines last week after it unveiled a prototype autonomous car of its own design and announced plans for a test fleet of 100 vehicles to hone the concept. A wide range of traditional automakers are also pursuing the technology, including GM, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. Nissan itself has committed to launching multiple autonomous vehicles with “realistic prices for consumers” by 2020.
Industry research firm IHS Automotive has predicted that self-driving cars will account for 230,000 sales worldwide in 2025, with volume subsequently surging to the point that traditional vehicles will essentially disappear by 2050.