Report: Automakers Petition to Ditch Mirrors

Ingo Barenschee

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.

Nice idea because we know technology NEVER fails... 
The idea of cameras instead of mirrors is a great idea long overdue. Not only is there a benefit in drag resistance, but the field of view is greater, creating less of a blind spot.  With the display in the center dash, instead of craning my neck to the right to check the mirror and then even further to check my blind spot before I change lanes, all I have to do is look more or less in the same direction the vehicle is traveling.  Have you ever been in traffic and looked to the right to change lanes, and in that second you take to look right, the vehicle in front of you suddenly slams the brakes?  How many accidents have occurred with that same scenario?  That reason alone should be reason enough!  Another reason- how many accidents occur because drivers don't check their blind spot?  Car companies are putting in technology to compensate for dumb drivers.  Some of them become required by NHTSA.  By that logic, shouldn't this become a standard safety feature?
True Car Guy
Why has it taken them so long to come to this conclusion? 4-7% of the total vehicle drag is from the mirror's, this should have been done ten years ago!
Richard Austin
Modern idea.  Cameras can also be mounted at the leading edge of the vehicle for even greater range. Can also record whatever is happening behind you. Like the bonehead texting at speed right into your back-up camera. And yet another view of the high speed pursuit. But on the other hand; who looks forward to being completely ensconced in cameras and displays? Geeks?
True Car Guy
Very true... but most people don't use the damn mirrors anyway... (looking at you BMW drivers)

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