TOKYO -- The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance will debut its next-generation connected-car platform later this year in the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle and redesigned Renault Clio small car.
Called the Alliance Intelligent Cloud, the new platform will help drivers navigate and service their cars while providing the automakers with data to channel into self-driving car systems.
"This will have a huge impact on the customer experience," Kal Mos, global vice president of connected vehicles at Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, told Automotive News. "All this will help us design the car better and better meet customer needs."
The technology was developed by the auto group and U.S. technology giant Microsoft using Microsoft's Azure platform. The tie-up was announced in September 2016.
The rollout is a step toward positioning connectivity as a cornerstone of alliance automotive technology. At Nissan, for instance, it figures into a brand strategy called Nissan Intelligent Mobility, which prioritizes development of connectivity, electrification and autonomous driving.
The alliance wants 90 percent of its new vehicles to be connected by 2022.
Microsoft is working on connectivity with other automakers, including Volvo and BMW. But Nissan and Renault will be the first to use Microsoft's entire suite of software.
Using Microsoft's cloud technology, the software allows automakers to access the vehicle's data to predict maintenance as well as gather driver data for research. In the future, it might also be leveraged to operate Microsoft services such as Office 365 and the virtual assistant Cortana.
It will provide real-time and contextual navigation, helping drivers time traffic lights, dodge highway backups, search for the nearest Starbucks or find the nearest, cheapest fuel station.
Vehicles equipped with Alliance Intelligent Cloud will have seamless Internet access, enhanced remote diagnostics, over-the-air software updates and access to infotainment services, the companies said. Data produced and collected by the platform can also be used for machine learning in autonomous driving systems.
Intelligent Cloud will first be offered on the Nissan Leaf in Japan and Europe and on the popular Clio compact in Europe. Mos declined to say when the technology would reach the U.S., but the system will gradually be introduced worldwide.
Engineers are discussing with counterparts at Mitsubishi when the system might be deployed by the alliance's junior Japanese partner, which joined the group in 2016.
Nissan kicked off its push into connected cars in October 2016 by forming a 300-person tech division to develop and execute its mobility strategy.
Last September, the alliance signed a global multiyear agreement to partner with Google to equip Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi vehicles with intelligent infotainment systems. That service will begin in 2021, integrating Google Maps, Google Assistant and the Google Play Store.