Second Nissan Futures event focuses on autonomous driving and unveils bold uses for electric vehicle batteries…


Nissan had autonomous little robots running around in the Barcelona registration hall of the Futures event… 

We already reported extensively about the first Nissan Futures event in London, and Nissan came in Barcelona up with an encore: this time it revealed the results of Europe’s most comprehensive study into the social and economic impact of autonomous drive.


It amply showed how Nissan looks progressively into the future, and indeed Nissan has also further bold plans and applications of E-energy up its sleeve: Nissan and Eaton announced in expansion of their xStorage Home portfolio to include a range of six products, with pre-orders being opened in several European countries.


The conference was held in Nissan’s Barcelona factory premises…

There is still more: xStorage Home to be complemented by xStorage Buildings as Nissan, The Mobility House and Eaton prepare to power up Amsterdam ArenA with electric vehicle batteries…

We tell you here more about all this, just read further.

Hans Knol ten Bensel


The event in Barcelona started off with an opening speech by Paul Willcox, Chairman, Nissan Europe. He said: “The future holds immense possibilities for those who are brave enough to embrace disruption and pioneer future technologies. It is our ambition to use our passion and expertise from over 100 years in the automotive business to help us live cleaner, safer, more sustainable lives. Our Intelligent Integration strategy is growing, our Intelligent Driving strategy is being delivered and our Intelligent Power plans are bigger and bolder than ever before.

“Today we’re excited to share these developments with the world because we’re convinced they will help spark a social revolution in intelligent mobility services and energy management.”


Needless to say that we were anxious to see and hear what it was all about… Mr. Willcox was followed by Henk Markerink, CEO of the Amsterdam ArenA. He announced the 10 year deal between Nissan, Eaton and The Mobility House to make the world-famous Amsterdam ArenA more energy efficient with battery storage.


Using 280 Nissan LEAF batteries, the system designed for the Amsterdam ArenA will be the largest energy storage system powered by second-life batteries used by a commercial business in Europe and will have four Megawatts of power and four Megawatts of storage capacity.

As well as providing vital back-up power services to the ArenA, xStorage Buildings also enables the Amsterdam ArenA to power the surrounding neighborhood when necessary and protect the grid. The Mobility House, a technology company, will operate the xStorage Buildings system integrated at the Amsterdam ArenA. It will perform various energy services strengthening local grid stability while generating additional value for the Amsterdam ArenA.


In parallel, Nissan and Eaton have today announced that their residential energy storage unit, xStorage Home,will be available to pre-order in UK, Norway and Germany with other European markets to follow in the coming months.

Autonomous driving: the start of a revolution with extensive social impact…



We then were led into a very interesting conference held by Melissa Cefkin, Principal Scientist and Design Anthropologist, working at Nissan Research Center in Silicon Valley. She concentrated in her presentation on socially acceptable autonomous driving. Indeed, bringing the car in harmony with society. This means, solving how can we maintain traffic flow, inspire confidence in other road users, act in accordance with local driving culture. Her approach is to  study how pedestrians and bicyclists interact with vehicles from the subjects point of view in natural settings, and then analyze the behavior patterns to identify key elements of communication and interpretation. Her laboratory so to say cooperates with universities and other social researchers.

They came to the following insights concerning road use: people try to confirm they have been seen. People communicate, directly or indirectly, to clarify order and actions. People also dynamically adjust their actions in relation to other’s actions, and last but not least, local conditions and cultural practices shape people’s expectations and actions.


To state this last point, she illustrated street crossing in Iran and narrow roads in Japan…

A further panel concentrated on new mobility opportunities. Indeed, we need new mobility solutions across the metropolitan landscape. We must find new creative combinations between multi-modal forms of transport, car sharing and individual ownership. In fact, members of Nissan’s Future Lab presented their work.


Nissan Future Lab was established in 2014 as an extension of Nissan’s global advanced planning group and looks decades ahead to identify potential issues and opportunities for the business today and into the future. Nissan Future Lab looks beyond products and examines the future of mobility in a wider sense. The group is inspired by rapid developments in automotive technology such as electric, autonomous and connected vehicles and trends like ride sharing.


“Our mission is to impact mobility from now until 2025 in ways that improve quality of life and are sustainable,” stated Rachel Nguyen, Executive Director of Nissan Future Lab.

Rachel sees urbanization and the growth of megacities – particularly in developing countries – as the biggest challenge facing the automotive industry. She believes autonomous and connected vehicles will be the “game changer” as developing conurbations seek greener, more efficient modes of transport and people change the way their interact with vehicles. “It’s mind boggling to think there’s only about 10 megacities now and in 20 years there will be 30,” she says. “Mobility is a major driving force central to how these megacities will develop. They could be completely different and so could transportation within them.”


“Working within the living lab framework allows Nissan to experiment out in the marketplace,” said Rachel Nguyen  “By combining our hardware with outside software, services and systems into collaborative beta tests, Nissan has the opportunity to develop new products and service offerings that fit in the new mobility economy”, she concluded.

The car of the future…


According to Carlos Ghosn, the car of the future will be electric, autonomous and connected. The success of the LEAF is commonly known, the Renault Nissan has ambitious plans to launch 10 Autonomous Driving Vehicles by 2020, and what connected vehicles is concerned, the Alliance has a Common Alliance platform in development.

Indeed, the automotive industry is at a turning point: From our “classic” car, being already hybrid, electric, we are already evolving towards the connected car, using cloud services for infotainment, telematics, preventive maintenance. The path towards autonomous driving is already paved with advanced driver assistant systems, like collision prevention cobined with adaptive cruise control, automatic parking and hands -off driving. The last stage will be the fusion of social infrastructure and the car, converging into mobility services. This means robo-vehicles, car-sharing services, on demand multi-mobile services.


Future spirit enhanced by serving a robo-cocktail…

In the evening, Nissan organized a fascinating walking dinner where we were able to meet the Nissan experts, and enjoy not only excellent cuisine, but also a range of cocktails served by a… robot. Your servant went fittingly for the “technopolitan”, a mixture of Vodka, Indian Tonic Water and  Blackcurrant Syrup.


For further study…

The London-based think tank Policy Network (www.policy – presented their latest study on the subject, with the title “Freeing the road”, shaping the future of autonomous vehicles. (See photo above).

The study states that European countries are beginning to engage with the changes that AVs will bring. However, to reap the benefits of the new transport technology, leadership will be needed at all levels to maximise the potential of AVs in the 21st century. A number of countries –notably Germany, Spain and the UK – have ‘dipped their toes in the water’ by allowing test driving of AVs on their roads. But the measures needed for the widespread adoption of driverless technology will require a more rigorous response from European policymaking institutions at the EU, national, regional and city level. At all those levels of government, there is an imperative to act now.

The research team found out that all four of the countries examined have laid the foundations for the testing of highly automated and autonomous vehicles on both test sites and public roads, but have not yet resolved the issue of full autonomy for public use. For full ‘driverless’ autonomy to be introduced considerable further legislative and regulatory change will be needed.


This was also pointed out by Friederike Kienitz, who is Nissan Europe’s vice president for legal, external and government affairs.  By making their regulations however, lawmakers are rather confident about safety, and she stated that the Renault Nissan Alliance will only bring 100 pct safe technology on the market, otherwise a reputation backlash and loss in market share could occur.


All the photos at the conference were taken with our astonishing Canon G 9X, except of course this photo in our hotel room, taken with my faithful I Phone 4…

A further study was distributed to the participants of this conference, titled “The Nissan Social Index”, (see photo above) about Consumer Attitudes to Autonomous Drive. The study was commissioned by Nissan and approximately 6000 people were polled across 6 European Countries, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Norway.


Returning back to Brussels with loads of interesting information across the Pyrenees… 

We will comment further on these studies soon, and in the meantime, let you enjoy the photos…

Hans Knol ten Bensel



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