The new ES will become the first mirrorless production car when it goes on sale this October. However, Lexus’ new camera system will only be available in the Japanese market for the ES 300h version L.
With Lexus’s “Digital Outer Mirrors,” the typical glass mirror pods are replaced by rear-facing digital cameras. The feed from those cameras is then displayed on small, 5-inch monitors inside the cabin that sit at the base of the front pillars. The cameras even automatically adjust their field of focus when a turn signal is activated, or the vehicle is put into reverse.
Here in the U.S., the technology has yet to be made legal, though vehicles are already being sold with video screens that replace the center rearview mirror.
The development of cars without conventional side view mirrors has been proposed for some time now due to their number of advantages. In addition to providing an expanded view and better visibility at night and in poor weather, these digital systems can help yield better fuel efficiency due to the more aerodynamic design of the camera setup.
While these benefits are all fine and dandy, let’s just hope they’re flexible enough to fold in when absent-mind drivers or pedestrians decide to bump into them. It’s already expensive enough to replace broken car mirrors, and we don’t want to begin thinking about the cost of a whole new camera system.
Although regulations do not permit the technology in the U.S., it is legal in Europe, where Audi plans to introduce it as an option the automaker’s upcoming all-electric E-Tron SUV. Both Audi and Japanese developers continue to lobby for mirrorless cars in the States, so only time will tell whether we’ll be seeing new vehicles equipped with those stylish camera stanchions any time soon.
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