Nissan Future Lab's latest project is a collaboration with Scoot Networks. The companies have deployed a fleet of 10 Nissan New Mobility Concept cars – also known as the Renault Twizy – to Scoot's hometown, San Francisco. There, participants can use an app developed by Scoot to request a car. In many ways, it will be similar to a program Nissan implemented in Japan. Nissan says this program will help them understand how and why people use car sharing in an urban environment. It will also help the company learn some of the logistics of car sharing services such as where to place cars and how to return them to their home locations.
The other project Nissan Future Lab is working on is a bit older, having initially started in 2014. The group partnered with the US Air Force on researching how electric cars could be used to support an electric grid. The fleet of Nissan Leafs the company provided can be used to store excess electricity from the power plant that can be returned to the grid during high-demand hours. This vehicle-to-grid idea has generated quite a bit of interest ever since electric cars started becoming mainstream. In addition to handling additional electricity demand, using electric cars as batteries could also open up the possibilities of using them as an alternative to back-up generators. Tesla already offered batteries alone for these purposes, so it wouldn't be hard to imagine making that a possibility for active cars.
Nissan is sure to learn some important things from their projects. For average consumers, this is one more sign that automakers believe the future holds loads of electric vehicles, and many of them will be on-demand rentals.