Self-driving: It's not just for Tesla (TSLA 2.99%) owners! Japanese automaker Nissan (NSANY 2.03%) announced on Thursday that it will include automated driving features in all of its future models, regardless of price.

In an ambitious three-year plan, the company expects to roll out 20 new models by 2023, all of which will feature some level of automated driving capability. The move comes as competition heats up among automakers of all sizes to implement advanced technology like long-range batteries, automated driving, and heads-up displays. 

A concept rendering of an autonomous vehicle cockpit.

Image source: Getty Images.

Race to the top

Nissan, the ninth-largest automaker in the world by revenue, has had some success bringing technological innovations to market. It was the first carmaker to offer a mass-market battery-electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf, in 2010. In 2016, the company introduced its ProPILOT 1 technology, which allowed a car to automatically follow the car in front of it while driving on the highway. That technology will come standard on Nissan's lower-priced models.

More upscale vehicles, including Nissan's new Ariya battery-electric crossover SUV, will get an upgraded version of the technology, ProPILOT 2.0. Unveiled last year, ProPILOT 2.0 purports to be the world's first system "combining navigated highway driving with hands-off single-lane driving capabilities." The Ariya is scheduled for a 2021 release. By 2023, Nissan hopes to sell 1.5 million vehicles per year with ProPILOT technology.

Rival carmakers are pursuing their own versions of the technology. Tesla plans to offer automatic tracking and lane-maintaining technology as standard equipment on its Model 3 sedans, and is considering rolling out an Autopilot subscription service. Other manufacturers offer automated-driving technology as an optional feature, or standard on higher-priced vehicles only. But Nissan's move may accelerate the race to include such features as standard on most cars.