Lexus Beats Audi And Becomes First To Put Digital Side-View Cameras Into Production

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.

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  • PhilMcGraw

    I definitely agree this is a great new system, however I can’t help but think of the costs associated with it if your side mirror breaks or if one of the monitor fails.

    • TheBelltower

      The interior screens (which are horribly ugly in this application IMHO) are probably more reliable than exterior mirrors which are exposed to the elements. Cameras are cheap, so eventually replacement parts shouldn’t cost any more than a complexed motorized mirror system. But I’m sure that automakers will charge an arm and a leg if they can.

      • Galaxium

        It’ll definitely be expensive buying OEM.

        Basic OEM rear-view cameras I have seen go upward of $250.

  • Jason Panamera

    Lexus ES will be the first in the Japan and Mercedes Actros (probably) the first in Europe since April of 2019, when first models will be delivered to owners. ( Benz already got homologation for this technology but as far as I know only in EU.)

  • Nick G

    Could they not have made them look less phallic???

    • Jason Panamera

      Ah these feminists. Also make gear lever less phallic and wipers lever.

      • El de Ngaan

        Indeed it does look like a phallic in picture 3. A head and a shaft 😒

        • Krisnadi Imam

          does it come with vibrate function?
          i mean to shake off the raindrops that cover the lens?

          • El de Ngaan

            😂😂🤣🤣 Don’t think so.

      • Dude

        How did you get ‘feminist’ from that? I wouldn’t say it looks like a d!ck but I think Nick was making a joke.

        • Jason Panamera

          It was just a troll comment. It may have a phallic shape but length is dictated by a range of camera view, thickness is for being strong enough to not to get broken. They could make it thin but look may be too futuristic and more expensive. Also new design features are better to be more normal. Like benz EQC, not too futuristic.

          • Nick G

            Whether or not my comment was ‘trolling’ does not negate the fact that these stupid appendages look like dicks. Lazy execution that clutters the interior while only minimally benefitting aero… with NO benefit in appearance, IMO.

  • TheBelltower

    Since they are cameras, why do they have to be placed where conventional mirrors are placed? And why so large? The screens look like an afterthought. The design is all very messy.

    • MonkeyRider

      Because it’s after thought.
      They have to use current mirror mounting on the exterior door, also the interior is not designed for this technology.

    • Dude

      Familiarity/trying to beat Audi maybe

    • Thats a very good comment – they had the opportunity to completely do away with the mirror (side camera thing) and put the camera(s) in many other places – probably giving an even better field of view if they combine a few cameras together into one picture.

  • TB

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to use the center info screen for this? It just seems like the screen on each side doesn’t look all that clean.

    • Galaxium

      I thought that first (a la Honda’s camera system) but then I realized you’re going to have to turn your head regardless to make sure there isn’t something exactly next to your car. Might as well make it user-friendly and similar to current systems.

      • TB

        Hmm…very good point.

  • Jason Miller

    Isn’t the point to get the mirrors completely off the outside of the car? Having the camera’s hanging off isn’t any better.

    • PhilMcGraw

      It looks like they still have turn signal indicators on them. Plus I would think aesthetically it looks good to have something there than nothing.

    • alexxx

      Just what i thought

    • Krisnadi Imam

      well its hard to imagine a person to look without their earlobes… just icky i guess

  • Dude

    Yeah the E-Tron went into production a week ago so idk. Maybe this ES started production before that.

  • eb110americana

    If I were to implement such a system, I’d sacrifice a little angle by mounting the cameras nearly flush with the exterior of the car. If that compromised view too much, you can always stitch several camera views together (such as adding two at the top corners of the rear glass).

    Speaking of stitching views together, I would not place the screens in the conventional locations for checking your exterior mirrors at the sides of the dashboard as Lexus has. I would include a backup camera in the center and join all three in the location of the center (windshield-mounted) rearview mirror. Then, any time you needed to check cars anywhere behind you, you would have a wide, unobstructed view from one side all the way to the other, with no blind spots whatsoever. Sure, it would take a bit of getting used to, but I suspect that once you did, it would be very difficult to go back to what we do now.

  • This is progress, now let’s watch legislators stall progress.

    Although it might be a good idea to delay adoption here, more screens with all the smash and grabs could fuel this raging fire.

  • Grumpy

    Better have ambient light sensors to adjust screen brightness. In fact every screen in cars should have them. Just imagine driving at night.

  • ctk4949

    That looks terrible!!!!

  • Mr_Fanta_Pants

    More tacked on screens! Yaaaay!

  • john1168

    I’m all for the new tech. The exterior camera looks good but could be smaller and thinner. It doesn’t need to be so big. The screen on the inside on the other hand doesn’t look that good. It really needs to look more integrated. I can see a center stack screen looking like an ipad on the dash but NOT these side view screens. This looks bad, takes up space and I can see people accidentally hitting them.


  • Ary Wisesa

    Well, I think I’m not exactly ready for this tech, so I wouldn’t opt for this one. Moreover, since I live in mostly bright and warm region, I think I won’t need it either. So I’ll stick with conventional mirror. Having said that, I always glad whenever automakers introduces a new tech. Good job Lexus!

  • Simon Ehiemua

    Who said Lexus ES is the first? Have you seen the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid’s implementation of the technology, albeit only on the right mirror?

    • Krisnadi Imam

      I think thats lane watch system that u are refering to. they are only to show your rear view from the central console screen

  • Enter Ranting

    Oof, what a clunky, poorly integrated “solution” to a non-problem.

  • I’m guessing the thinking was to be a transitory solution (to a non-existent problem, btw) in the time people get used to more advanced technological features; still, the did an awful job with both external and internal using, it seems, readily-available parts. The worst offender here, imho, are those tacky stacked rectangular screens that look like sticked-on GPS/navigation systems used not long ago (Garmin, TomTom…), at the very least they could have made sleeker displays, even if they are an afterthought.
    About the external cameras, I agree with many here, unlike the position of the screens inside, you are not limited by traditions or technology – C’mon! Toyota and others already stitch images in real time from multiple cameras around the car!

  • OdysseyTag

    Clearly this car wasn’t designed with digital side mirrors in mind. Can’t get over those GPS-like screens. Looking forward to the e-Tron’s implementation which looks more thought out.

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