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Car ownership to live on: Nissan

Driving change: With the advent of autonomous drive technology, Nissan’s Ogi Redzic says there will be a greater focus on passenger tech in the future.

Nissan execs say car sharing will not spell the end of ownership

12 Feb 2018

CAR-SHARING services and autonomous mobility solutions will not kill car ownership, according to a senior Nissan executive who has predicted a shift in focus form the driver to the passenger with the advent of driverless cars.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance senior vice-president of connected vehicles and mobility services Ogi Redzic says consumers will still want to own a car outright, even when sharing and other services are more prolific.

“It doesn’t have to be either or,” he said at the Nissan Futures event in Singapore last week. “I am pretty certain I will still have a car in the garage, and I am using mobility services more and more already, and you will see this pattern. We really see that maybe in some very dense areas where parking is extremely expensive, you will see more and more mobility services.”

Mr Redzic added that the alliance’s recently announced sales targets highlight that people will still purchase their vehicles, while suggesting that mobility services present a new growth opportunity for the automredotive giant.

“We announced for the alliance 14 million cars, (up) from 10.6 million cars we are at today, in the next five years. It tells you we expect growth in personal ownership to still be there. There is no question that we view these new mobility services, especially when it comes to driverless, will be an entirely new segment and opportunity for us.

 center imageLeft: Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance senior vice-president of connected vehicles and mobility services Ogi Redzic

“And not necessarily the number of vehicles, because that would be the wrong metric to measure. By the number of miles of these cars, the number of trips these guys will be serving.

So fewer cars, but operating much more, which will imply more charging, more maintenance, more keeping people in the car, making sure they have a good experience.”

Mr Redzic said the company would focus more on in-car tech offerings aimed at passengers when fully autonomous cars start to roll out, to ensure people want to spend time in the vehicle.

“It will be much more about that rear seat, not the driver’s seat because there may not be a driver anymore, that front seat will be used as well for passengers at that point.

“What you provide to these passengers will become quite important – how do you entertain them, how do you provide them safety, if it is a shared vehicle, how do you remotely monitor them, because monitoring what is outside of the car is what everyone is talking about, but you also need to monitor what is happening inside the car.

“Those are new challenges, we haven’t had them before as an industry. In the beginning what you will see is optimising existing cars for driverless … but not far after that you should expect to see really purpose-built vehicles.”

Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Stephen Lester said the company was actively looking at how people will purchase cars in the future through its local finance arm and hinted at new opportunities in this area with the new-generation Leaf EV that arrives this year.

“There will be other opportunities probably with condo corps and things like that that do ride or vehicle ownership sharing,” he said in Singapore last week. “And how we can address how people will own or take part in the driving or car ownership experience on a go forward basis.”

When asked how quickly the model would change beyond car ownership, Mr Lester said Nissan would consult with customers on how they want to own or use a car.

“I think it is all about evolving with the times. Trying to be up to speed and ahead of the curb on trends by being at the table, having conversations, asking customers how they want to buy their cars in the future. Especially where fleet is concerned. But then it is research that we are doing with NFSA (Nissan Financial Services Australia) and how we then look at what that cycle is and what does that look like for a consumer mindset.”

Mr Lester said that after his time working in the North American market (he was previously managing director of Infiniti Canada), he was surprised that the majority of Australians preferred to own their car outright rather than lease.

He added that in some North America markets 50 to 70 per cent of vehicles were leased.

When asked about the viability of programs such as Porsche’s recently announced Passport scheme where people can pay a monthly subscription fee (between $US2000-$3000 which covers insurance, maintenance, registration and even detailing) for access to a range of Porsche models, Mr Lester said such a scheme could work for some consumers.

“I think you are already seeing some manufacturers invest in that subscription-based model. I would be foolish to say that is never going to happen, because I don’t know the answer to that. I could see how that could be possible for consumers where that fits into their lifestyle.”

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