In 2000, Nissan spent $1.8 billion. This year it spent $4.4 billion, and is hiring techs, engineers, and scientists to fill a 2,000-person R&D center in Japan. And by spending even more in the coming years on a plan it calls Vision 2015, Nissan plans to re-establish its tech credentials and make driving safer, quicker, cleaner, and more fun in the process.

It will do so by bringing out 15 new technologies every year.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]

Some of those are pretty clear, like a hydrocarbon-reducing catalytic converter and a lane change departure warning system. Others are somewhat futuristic, like the paint that heals itself with sunlight, and the car-to-car communication system routed through a central central Nissan data center that lets Nissan drivers know about traffic conditions. And some are lofty, like a system that detects alcohol in a driver's sweat, and the firm selling an all-electric vehicle in the US as early as 2012.

And then there's that guy in the dashboard you see in the pic above. We would describe him as: freakin' freaky. He is part of an effort to get kids to enjoy cars again by giving cars actual personalities instead of mere driving personalities, since Nissan seems to feel kids enjoy their gadgets more than their cars. It will make your car something like your pet, an "onboard personal robot that will greet drivers, chat with them about their day and notify them of driving issues, such as slippery roads and traffic speed." Stay tuned for 2015, when your car looks you in the eye and says "I really wish you hadn't done that."

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