TOYKO – Nissan takes another step in its so-called Intelligent Mobility strategy with the rollout of the new X-Trail SUV featuring the automaker’s ProPilot autonomous-drive system, a technology its chief product planner considers competitive with more-heralded self-driving systems from Google and Uber.

Equipped with a windshield-mounted camera to identify other vehicles and lane markers alongside the highway, the Pro-Pilot-equipped X-Trail drives autonomously in single-lane traffic. It performs acceleration, steering and braking to keep the car in the center of its lane. It is activated by the turn of a switch.

The X-Trail is the second Nissan vehicle to incorporate the ProPilot, coming about 10 months after the Serena minivan. Next up is the Qashqai compact CUV in Europe.

Philippe Klein, chief planning officer at Nissan, tells WardsAuto the automaker is on schedule to meet its autonomous-drive targets.

“It is not a fantasy,” he says in an interview. “It is something that we are gradually approaching.”

Nissan plans to expand ProPilot’s capability in 2018 to include multi-lane highway situations. The automaker intends to add urban driving, including intersections, beginning in 2020. The larger Renault-Nissan Alliance is on track to launch 10 vehicles with autonomous-drive functionality in the 2020 timeframe, including the next-generation Leaf battery-electric vehicle, Klein says.

“The building blocks are in place,” he says.

Klein stops short of commenting on competition in the self-driving space, but believes Nissan is competitive with the likes of Google’s Waymo unit, Apple and Uber, which receive a lot of ink for their mobility ambitions.

“I do not see that we have any handicap,” he says. “It is a stimulating environment. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Nissan is in a good position.”

Klein also says there are different approaches to autonomous driving. Ford, for example, wants to skip intermediate levels of autonomous driving and focus on high- and full-automation, while others want to take it step by step. Some also make autonomy central to their business, while others see it as complementary.

“There are (companies) chasing the pure driverless car as a priority,” Klein says. “We are not doing this, which does not mean we are not working on a driverless concept.”

Nissan in January entered an agreement with the Japanese Internet company DeNA to fleet-test autonomous-drive taxis with the aim of beginning commercial operations in 2020. The automaker also is working to adapt artificial intelligence technology first developed by NASA and to introduce connected-car systems jointly with software giant Microsoft.

Another main driver of Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility strategy is vehicle electrification. Nissan’s focus since launching the Leaf in 2010 has been on pure EVs rather than hybrids.

“All the rest is transition,” Klein claims. “From making improvements in the conventional powertrain, including further utilization of downsized, turbocharged engine technology, to 48V and plug-in hybrids. And the transition will be gradual.”

Nonetheless, Nissan remains committed to delivering products and technologies consumers demand, he adds.

“Depending on the market situation, Nissan will be ready, matching the technology to the value for the customer, the price that the customer is willing to pay and the cost to the manufacturer,” he says. “If this is all not properly aligned, the technology usually cannot prevail.”