Nissan CEO says some car makers concerned over product control in Google cooperation

TOKYO Thu Jul 17, 2014 1:03pm IST

Nissan Motor Co's President and Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn gestures as he speaks at a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo July 17, 2014.  REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Nissan Motor Co's President and Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn gestures as he speaks at a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo July 17, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) chief executive Carlos Ghosn said some car makers remain reticent about working with technology giant Google Inc (GOOGL.O) as it develops driverless vehicles for fear of their brands' identities becoming submerged.

Ghosn, who also heads France's Renault (RENA.PA), said car makers can benefit from collaborating with Google, which offers its Android software for cars and which is building prototypes of self-driving cars.

"But at the end of the day, I think all car makers are extremely cautious about maintaining control on their own cars," he told a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday.

"We obviously don't want to become just a kind of a simple common hardware," Ghosn said. "We really want to keep the attractiveness of the product and the control on the product."

Nissan, along with General Motors (GM.N), Volkwagen AG's (VOWG_p.DE) Audi and Honda Motor Co (7267.T), teamed up with Google this year to form the Open Automotive Alliance to incorporate the Android operating system into cars.

Ghosn previously set a target for Japan's third-biggest car maker to introduce its own self-driving vehicles on a commercial basis by 2020. On Thursday he said it's a goal for Nissan to become the first to introduce driverless cars on a mass scale so as to set the standard and boost its brand's presence.

"There is always a premium for those who come first because you are associating the brand with something that in the end everybody is going to get," he said.

In order to hit its 2020 target, Nissan plans to introduce systems that allow fully automated parking of cars and enable driverless cars to negotiate crowded highways, both by 2016. These innovations will be followed by technologies to allow the driverless cars to automatically change lanes and cross intersections in cities, Ghosn said.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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