Nissan Europe: technology that makes mobility safer - Jordi Vila Onses
In today's globalised business environment, mobility management strategies are of paramount importance. Finance Director Europe talks to Jordi Vila Onses, general manager of corporate sales at Nissan Europe, about how the company's new models reflect and inform the very latest mobility trends.
What are the key issues facing finance directors thinking of investing in mobility management?
Jordi Vila Onses: Mobility management is certainly rising up the agenda for finance directors. Tough market conditions and increasing employee movement demand greater efficiency and cost reductions. Corporate social responsibility targets, often linked to environmental concerns, are also driving change.
What sort of solutions are available?
Car sharing is one of the simplest and most economically effective. By providing employees with access to a company car pool, a firm dramatically reduces rental costs and reliance on taxis, significantly lowering the total cost of mobility. Receiving one single itemised bill from a car-share provider rather than multiple expenses from other forms of transportation also cuts down on administration costs.
Choosing the correct vehicle is central to the success of any car-sharing initiative. Firms must strike the right balance between financial concerns, usability, safety and environmental obligations.
Are the vehicle selection factors different for a car-sharing scheme?
Definitely. The traditional approach to fleet management needs to be challenged. Alternative powertrains can be considered for the majority of car-sharing schemes and we already have successful stories to relate. For example, the 100% electric Nissan LEAF was chosen by a significant number of our fleet customers in Europe.
The issue of safety must also be re-evaluated. Until now, the industry hasn't focused enough on this topic.
Why is safety such an important issue in mobility management?
Driver behaviour is different and increasingly risky. A lack of familiarity with the vehicles, combined with a nonchalant attitude towards company rather than personal property, can lead to employees driving dangerously and possibly sustaining injuries. Surveys show that the reaction time of users in critical situations is adversely affected, increasing the possibility of injuries or worse.
It is also much more difficult for the fleet manager to monitor individual driver behaviour and develop relevant training programmes. In order to address these issues, it is vital that companies' safety management strategies evolve; on-board technology offers effective answers and solutions as well as adapted vehicle choice.
What role can on-board technology play in mitigating these risks?
The Nissan Safety Shield concept - 'the car that helps protect people' - assists drivers in handling potential and, when necessary, unavoidable hazards, helping to reduce the number of fatal and serious injuries, and achieve its ultimate aim of achieving zero accidents in Nissan vehicles. Nissan's philosophy is to make this technology available to everyone. With the all-new Nissan NOTE, we were the first to propose features such as Around View Monitoring, and Blind Spot and Lane Departure Warning, on a B-segment car.
Could you describe the Safety Shield concept in more detail?
Using a combination of millimetre-wave radar, four visual sensory cameras and ultrasonic sensors, the Safety Shield facilitates a number of protective functions. The Forward Collision Avoidance System, for instance, analyses the relative speed and gap between the two vehicles in front and out of view, and actively supports the driver.
This functionality includes a driver warning when there is a need to decelerate, brake assist activation and ultimately autonomous braking. The device is proven to reduce collisions by 27%.
The new 2014 Nissan Qashqai will incoporate no fewer than 16 new safety features, including the Fatigue Alert. Having observed speed as well as lateral and longitudinal acceleration, the technology will send an audible signal and a flashing message to notify the driver to take a break.
The Traffic Sign Recognition System uses speed sign reading and recognition displayed in a 5in coloured dashboard combimeter to help the driver comply with the speed limit.
All the features are user-friendly and easy to identify - no specific training is needed. Finally, these Safety Shield features offer a very strong cost-to-benefit ratio: accident reduction for High Beam Assist stands at 14%, Around View Monitoring at 26% and Tyre Pressure Monitoring at 13%. Further savings on fuel and tyres are expected.
What other innovations can we expect to see from Nissan in the near future?
While impressive, these technologies are by no means the last word in Nissan's drive towards safety improvements. We are currently testing the breakthrough Autonomous Drive system using the LEAF model. Employing unique, award-winning technology, it is designed to deliver the zero-accident promise; namely, to reduce accidents and improve safety.
These vehicles are scheduled for 2020 and there is no doubt that they will also be applied in fleet sales. This is not science fiction; Nissan Autonomous Drive cars will be on the road by 2020.