SUNNYVALE (KCBS) – Silicon Valley is welcoming a new tenant: Nissan Motors is opening a research and development center in Sunnyvale this week.

It’s not the first time the auto industry has tapped into the region’s brightest minds, and likely won’t be the last.

Maarten Sierhuis, Nissan’s Director of Research, explained the goal: in essence, to expanding the company’s electric vehicle fleet.

“Provide that opportunity for the smartest people to come and work here at the center and help us in making autonomous cars a reality,” said Sierhuis.

Nissan has already sold an estimated 50,000 of its all electric Leaf vehicle.

Sierhuis estimates Nissan will hire 60 engineers and high tech experts in Sunnyvale over the next three years.

“We will start this year with hiring maybe some 20 people that we hope to bring on board,” he explained. “Silicon Valley is the place for innovation and the can-do spirit and a lot of research universities that we can collaborate with.”

“It’s good business,” Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, said in support of Nissan’s move. “Highways meet high tech, and what we do to move cars today takes incredible research and development, and what better place than the epicenter of the innovation capitol of the world?”

Tesla, Audi and Volkswagon already have a presence in Silicon Valley – and for good reason, offered Guardino.

“So much is done here in a collaborative and competitive spirit that just spawns innovation.”

He predicts more car companies will set up R&D shops in Silicon Valley in the not too distant future.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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