Nissan-Renault CEO Says Apple Car Is 'Good News for Us'

The CEO of the Nissan-Renault Alliance, Carlos Ghosn, said on Monday that Apple making an electric car would be "good news for us." During a keynote address at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress, Mr. Ghosn effectively said that Apple's entrance to the market would raise awareness of electric cars, something that could help propel them into the mainstream.

"If Apple does it, obviously it's good news for us, Mr. Ghosn said, according to CNet. "The fact that a company outside of the auto industry wants to do electric cars is refreshing." Mr. Ghosn also said that he was curious about Apple's project.

This contrasts sharply with other auto execs who have expressed doubts about Apple's much-rumored "Titan" electric car, and even questioned why Apple would be interested in the low-margin auto industry.

The idea that Apple's rising tide would lift all boats—or cars, in this case—is reasonable, especially for any legacy auto company looking to move consumers to electric vehicles. The Nissan-Renault Alliance is just such a company, having made significant investments in electric vehicles. Mr. Ghosn should get some credit for not knee-jerking a response to Apple's rumors as his peers have done.

Also during the keynote, Mr. Ghosn spoke about self-driving vehicles. He said they will come in three waves, at least from his company. The first will be here as soon as next year, with cars that can take over in bumper-to-bumper traffic. He said that the technology to do this exists today, but that regulators are being slow to accept it.

The second will be cars that can handle autonomous highway traffic. Those cars are expected by 2018. Two years later, in 2020, Mr. Ghosn believes fully autonomous vehicles that can handle city driving will arrive.

Apple competitor Google has been working on autonomous vehicles for several years now. The company has been testing such vehicles on highways in California, but only in a limited capacity. Apple's "Titan" car is rumored to be electric, but is not expected to be self-driving out of the gate when it is released in 2020.

Apple itself hasn't announced anything.