After the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a rule that will eventually require all cars to have standard backup cameras, a group of automakers filed a petition asking NHTSA to revise the requirement that all cars have sideview mirrors. Yesterday, NHTSA confirmed it will require all new light-duty vehicles built after May 2018 to have a backup camera.
Automotive News reports that Tesla Motors and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers wants NHTSA to allow automakers to use video cameras rather than physical mirrors on future models. Because the cameras would reportedly be smaller than glass mirrors, the Alliance believes the change could reduce aerodynamic drag and improve car fuel efficiency. Currently, federal vehicle standards require all cars to have exterior sideview mirrors.
"Cameras will open opportunities for additional design flexibility and innovation. This idea has been in development since the 1990s, when the U.S. Department of Energy partnered with automakers to produce an energy-efficient concept car with cameras instead of side-view mirrors," the Alliance said in a statement.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers counts among its members BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi, Porsche Cars North America, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America, and Volvo. Automotive News reports that Tesla, although not a member of the Alliance, has also signed on to the petition.
Many automakers have shown concept cars that use small cameras instead of physical mirrors, including the super-efficient Volkswagen XL1 (pictured). In the XL1, the view behind the car is shown on color screens integrated into the door panels. The original Tesla Model X Prototype similarly eschewed mirrors in favor of drag-reducing cameras. The 2014 Honda Accord offers a similar feature called LaneWatch, which shows a view of the car's blindspot in the infotainment display.