Nissan to build self-driven car for Japan's highways by next year

Nissan is planning to build a car that can navigate Japan's highways on its own next year, and it plans to roll out a completely self-driving vehicle for urban areas by 2020.

"There will be a Nissan product in Japan, which will carry autonomous drive," Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn told reporters at the New York International Auto Show on Thursday. "Obviously when you have this kind of technology, you want also the Japanese market to enjoy it as soon as possible."

Further this week, according to auto parts supplier Delphi, its autonomous Audi completed a 3,500-mile, cross-country journey.

The car undertook a San Francisco to New York run in the first coast-to-coast trip ever taken by an automated vehicle. The nine-day journey took the car across 15 states and the District of Columbia. The car successfully negotiated complex driving situations such as traffic circles, construction zones, bridges, tunnels, aggressive drivers as also challenging weather conditions.

According to the company, 99 per cent of the drive was completed in fully automated mode.

"Our vehicle performed remarkably well during this drive, exceeding our expectations," Jeff Owens, Delphi chief technology officer, said in a statement. "The knowledge obtained from this trip will help optimize our existing active safety products and accelerate our future product development, which will allow us to deliver unsurpassed automotive grade technologies to our customers."

Meanwhile, Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn said Thursday the automaker needed more capacity in North America to fuel its growth.

Demand for Nissan Rogue sport utility vehicles could be met over the short term from plants in Korea and Japan, but longer term "we obviously need more capacity in North America," Ghosn told reporters at the New York auto show.

Nissan was pursuing plans to boost its market share in the US to a "sustainable 10 per cent" by 2017, he said. Nissan, including its Infiniti luxury brand, had a 9.3 per cent share of the US market as at the end of March and Ghosn said the company aimed to keep growing from there.

He did not offer a timetable for further expansion of North American production and was also silent as to whether Nissan would build new plants or increase production within the factories it has.