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Renault-Nissan to start autonomous car-sharing service 'within 10 years'

When sales eventually start to dip, you've got to appease the shareholders somehow.

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When self-driving cars hit the mainstream, they could very well decimate actual vehicle sales. Automakers will need additional revenue streams, and some, now including Renault-Nissan, are looking to mobility services.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance plans to launch ride-hailing and car-sharing services in the near-ish future, Reuters reports, citing an interview with Ogi Redzic, the Alliance's head of mobility services. It's unlikely to happen before 2020, but Redzic told Reuters that it should take place "certainly within 10 years."

Aiming for a fully fleshed-out electric, autonomous mobility service within 10 years is quite the tall order, but Renault-Nissan has the goods (and the cash) to make it happen.

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Redzic said that Renault-Nissan's best opportunity in this emerging market will happen at the intersection of autonomous driving, electric vehicles and ride-hailing or sharing services. The Alliance already has electric vehicles on the road (with new ones on the way), and it's currently developing self-driving tech, so it's most of the way there.

However, while automakers and tech companies alike are hustling to get autonomous systems developed, a lack of regulatory frameworks and public concern means we're still several years, if not a full decade away from getting proper, SAE Level 5 autonomous cars on roads.

The system that Redzic discussed with Reuters is similar to current public transportation. Renault-Nissan's service will operate on predetermined paths with set pick-up and drop-off points. It's like a bus, basically, but without a driver and probably with smaller vehicles.

While the service might differ, Renault-Nissan is far from the first company to investigate this sort of mobility service. BMW and Daimler are both working on autonomous vehicles for car-sharing and ride-hailing services, as is Uber, as is Waymo, as is General Motors (with Lyft's help). OK... perhaps the field is already pretty thick.