ATSUGI, Japan — Continental will supply the heart of a major connected-car campaign Nissan plans to launch next year with its global alliance partners, Renault and Mitsubishi.
The three automakers plan to begin equipping new vehicles, as well as those on the road, with a menu of cloud-based services. Among them: vehicle remote control, safety features, virtual personal assistant communications, Wi-Fi, autonomous-drive management and the ability to remotely upgrade vehicle features.
Nissan officials, describing the system last week at the Nissan Research Center here outside Tokyo, said the technology will rely on modules and software sourced solely from Continental.
The sourcing arrangement with the German supplier shows how lucrative the industry's sometimes enigmatic emerging technologies can be to suppliers.
For Continental to land such a large piece of new business will mean producing millions of systems for alliance programs around the world.
In recent years, Continental has morphed from a producer of brakes, tires and powertrain components into a provider of more advanced technologies such as self-driving vehicle features and software services.
Nissan said the connected system will appear in 2018 and be used in 90 percent of vehicles built by Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi. The three automakers and their brands last year sold nearly 10 million vehicles worldwide.
The arrangement also illustrates why automakers such as Nissan are so eager to link arms with other producers to become higher-volume customers.
Renault-Nissan Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn has said for years that being able to make larger purchases will enable him to win more favorable pricing. Lower costs, in turn, could allow an automaker to move more aggressively into new technologies.
The alliance partners have been quietly staffing up for the program since 2016, when they hired 110 people to work on it at the Atsugi Nissan site as well as at Renault's technical centers in France.
This year, the project doubled to 220 people. Next year when the program goes live, the partners expect to have 300 people working on it in Japan, France, India and California.