By Steve & Tamami Laser; with Nahoko Osuka reporting from Japan
Vans remain incredibly popular in Japan for families on the go. Since its introduction in 1991, Nissan has sold more than 1.5 million Serena minivans. And it can be sporty too – at the Tokyo Auto Salon earlier this year we saw a Serena dressed with the Nismo Performance Package. Now, Nissan has announced that the next generation Serena planned for a late August launch will be the first Nissan to offer ProPILOT autonomous drive technology.
Nissan says it’s the first Japanese automaker to introduce a combination of steering, accelerator and braking that can be operated in full automatic mode. The plan is to help ease driver workload in heavy highway traffic and long commutes. ProPILOT is designed for highway use in single-lane traffic – a good choice for Japan. Nissan is also developing more advanced versions for its future vehicles.
Employing advanced image-processing technology, Nissan says Serena’s ProPILOT system understands road and traffic situations and “executes precise steering enabling the vehicle to perform naturally.” ProPILOT technology is also user-friendly, with switches on the steering wheel that let the driver activate and deactivate the system.
The accelerator, brakes and steering are controlled based on information obtained through a mono camera equipped with advanced-image processing software. The ProPILOT camera can quickly recognize in three-dimensional depth both preceding vehicles and lane markers.
Once activated, ProPILOT automatically controls the distance between the vehicle and the preceding vehicle, using a speed preset by the driver (between approximately 30 km/h and 100 km/h). As we saw in the video, the system also keeps the car in the middle of the highway lane by reading lane markers and controlling steering, even through curves.
ProPILOT automatically applies the brakes to bring the vehicle to a full stop. After coming to a full stop, Serena remains in place even if the driver’s foot is off the brake pedal. When ready to resume driving, ProPILOT is activated when the driver touches the switch again or presses the accelerator.
Nissan is conducting studies of driving conditions across Japan so that ProPILOT will be well suited to the markets in which it will be launched. ProPILOT is planned to be introduced on the Qashqai in Europe next year and on other models in the U.S. and China. A multi-lane autonomous driving technology enabling automatic lane changes on highways is planned for introduction in 2018 while autonomous driving on urban roads and in intersections is planned for 2020.
Want to learn more? Check out this hour-long Serena World Premiere press conference from Nissan Global Headquarters in Yokohama. (video: Nissan)
There’s much more to see in the new Serena. With hints of previous models in the new exterior design, the Serena features a roomy, dynamic and refined design that sets the tone for next-generation minivans.
The Serena’s trademark waistline is smoother with a more sporty look while also providing better driver visibility. The dashboard adopts a “lateral flow” theme and features a thinner instrumental panel. High contrast color coordination also helps to promote an upscale look.
Nissan says the new Serena builds upon the packaging success that delighted previous owners. Thanks to options that can extend the length and width of the interior, the Serena is said to be the widest vehicle in its class in Japan.
In addition to ProPILOT, Serena offers an emergency braking system, Lane Departure Warning, Around View Monitor, and Smart Rearview Mirror. The new Serena will also feature Intelligent Park Assist, a refined version of the automatic parking system that was first offered on the X-TRAIL.
With all the new features, Serena remains remarkably affordable with a base price expected to be below ￥3,000,000 (about $28,600) at launch. The Serena is built at Nissan Motor Kyushu Co., Ltd.
Prices, features and specifications for Japanese market models are subject to change without notice by the automaker.
News source, photos, and video courtesy Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.
Story © 2016 CarNichiWa.com