But that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Mobility. Technology. Connectivity. Three words we heard from literally every automaker at Geneva earlier this month. Take it for what it is, and what it isn’t. Cars are changing more rapidly every year than ever before and, one day, our kids and grandkids will stare at us in disbelief that we actually drove cars with our hands and feet. They’ll be shocked we’re still alive to talk about our time behind the wheel without the safety and comfort of fully autonomous driving. But should we be concerned about the future of sports cars like the Nissan GT-R?
Based on our discussions at Geneva with Roel de Vries and Keno Kato, Nissan VP of Global Marketing and Corporate VP of Global Product, respectively, it’s crystal clear the Japanese automaker is at the forefront of numerous technologies. For example, Mr. de Vries believes that people aren’t going to want city noise, pollution, or to be stuck in traffic jams all day. The solution is more autonomy in vehicles as well as connectivity. The car of the future will become an extension of yourself and what you do. The IDS Concept, with its 341-mile battery range, retractable steering wheel, swivel front seats and autonomous system, is a clear indicator of de Vries’ vision.
But what about the next GT-R, which may not arrive until around 2020? Mr. Kato, himself a Skyline enthusiast, said the R36 will "meet customer needs." He refused to divulge any more details, like when I asked whether the next Godzilla will be a pure EV or not. He did add, however, that the stunning Nissan Concept 2020 Vision Gran Turismo is something he’s particularly proud of. A few Nissan officials in the past have spoken enthusiastically about the possibility of an electric GT-R that could outperform anything from Tesla. For Mr. Kato, however, "weight reduction and sound improvement" are two other areas he believes the GT-R needs work on.
He didn’t mention anything about fully or semi-autonomous tech in the R36, but this is where Mr. de Vries’ words come back into play, once describing the now defunct GT-R LM NISMO as the "ultimate GT-R." Speaking last year at an official reveal event, de Vries said that "Le Mans drives innovation, so success on the track will lead to greater innovation in or road car range." If Mr. de Vries’ vision of future mobility and connectivity is to be realized, then, based on his own words, much of that technology could start in the next GT-R and will trickle down to the rest of the Nissan lineup. A lot is going to happen, technologically, between 2016 today and 2020 and beyond. Nissan has no intention of being left behind, and the next GT-R will make that decisively clear.