Nissan once promised to have commercially viable autonomous vehicles on the road by 2020 and even certified a Leaf to test the technology in Japan. The company has since backpedaled a bit from its original lofty claims, though. During CEO Carlos Ghosn's keynote presentation at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the auto exec talked more about the automaker's strategy and directly confronted Apple's rumored entry into the market.

"When Apple says they are going to come with an electric car in 2020, that's good news for us," he said in his speech, according to Adweek. Ghosn took the view that any company able to grow the acceptance of EVs would help every automaker in the segment. The Renault-Nissan Alliance has been at the forefront of developing the market and claimed nearly 60 percent of the global market share last year.

He was also the latest auto industry heavyweight to voice his opinion on Apple entering the industry. However, in contrast to former General Motors boss Dan Akerson, the Nissan CEO was much more welcoming.

Ghosn also used the speech as a chance to clarify Nissan's plans for autonomous vehicles and seemingly pushed the original goal back by about five years. "In 10 years, you'll have cars without the driver. It is here, and it's going to transform the products," he said, according to Adweek. Under Nissan's current timeline, traffic-jam assist and fully automated parking are due in 2016, followed by automatic lane changing in 2018 and the ability to drive through intersections without a driver's control comes in 2020.

Green Car of the Year Award Presentation | 2015 DC Auto Show

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