For years now – decades even – we’ve been seeing concept cars replacing conventional side-view mirrors with digital cameras, only to ditch them on the road to production. But no more, as far as Lexus is concerned.
In what it claims as a world-first, Toyota’s luxury brand is installing new Digital Outer Mirrors on its vehicles, starting with the new ES sedan. And as you might expect, they offer a number of advantages over their “analog” counterparts.
For starters, they reduce drag, which can mean better fuel economy and performance, and less wind noise. They’ll accumulate less snow and rain too, and automatically (or manually) enhance the view to the side and rear of the vehicle when changing lanes or reversing – all of which sounds great to us.
The system employs a set of cameras mounted where the mirrors would be, and displays the footage on 5-inch monitors at the interior base of the A-pillars. It’s a technology similar to what Audi has developed for the new E-Tron. But Lexus claims it’s beating Ingolstadt to the punch by rolling it out next month already.
The system will be offered initially on the ES starting in October, before making its way onto other models. But for the time being, the Digital Outer Mirrors will only be offered in Japan, which approved the technology a couple of years ago already.
It may yet take some time for the technology to be approved for other markets – especially in the United States, where regulations governing such visibility technologies are among the strictest. Here’s hoping regulators see the benefits as clearly as Lexus does, and approve the technology for use around the world.