Honda is set to become the next automaker to offer customers the option of replacing conventional glass sideview mirrors with a system relying on cameras instead.
The technology will debut on the Honda e urban electric vehicle that will make its debut in the European market – though the automaker hasn’t said precisely when that will be. It will follow the launch of similar technology on the Lexus ES, the Japanese version of the sedan becoming the world’s first production vehicle to offer sideview cameras.
The technology has long been used on concept cars, automakers contending it could offer a number of advantages, including reduced wind noise and fuel economy-robbing drag. But regulators are only beginning to give camera systems a go in Europe and Japan, with no clear sense when it will be approved by U.S. authorities.
The Honda e has been previewed at European auto shows several times. The production version will be a pint-sized hatchback with an all-electric driveline capable of 124 miles of range on the European WLTP test – which would likely translate into something around 100 miles using the EPA cycle. It can be charged using a 50 kilowatt Level 3 charger, yielding about 80% of total range in 30 minutes And Honda promises it will deliver a more sporty feel than other battery-electric vehicles in its class.
(Honda takes Q4 loss, sees full-year profits fall 42%. Click Here for the story.)
“The Honda e compact electric car is a bold step for the brand in terms of design and technology, and forms part of the brand’s strategy to feature electrified technology in all cars it sells in Europe by 2025,” the automaker said in a statement.
The e will also features a number of techie features, such as flush door handles that pop out only when you need to enter the little vehicle. That concept is meant to reduce aero drag, as well as looking cool.
Cutting wind resistance is critical to battery-cars to maximize range, while also reducing vehicle noise. That’s one of the key benefits of going with cameras, Honda claiming a 90% reduction in drag versus conventional sideview mirrors – and a 3.8% improvement for the entire vehicle.
But there are other advantages, it says. “The driver can choose between ‘normal view’ and ‘wide view’ via the vehicle settings, extending the field of vision further than with conventional side mirrors and reducing blind spots by around 10% in normal view and approximately 50% in wide view.”
As with now commonplace backup cameras, the twin six-inch video screens positioned at either side of the dashboard will feature guidelines when the car is shifted into reverse. That will help a driver actually figure out where the vehicle is heading while turning.
The system will automatically adjust lighting, Honda says, to make the monitors as easy to see as a conventional mirror. And the cameras are positioned in a way, the automaker claims, to prevent water from getting on the lens when it’s raining.
It’s unclear when the Honda e will debut, bringing camera mirrors for the first time to Europe. The Lexus ES recently marked the introduction of the technology to Japan. Toyota’s luxury brand also uses image enhancement to brighten the view to improve visibility at night.
As for the U.S., a number of manufacturers, including Tesla, have petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to allow the use of camera mirrors here. It is so far uncertain if or when NHTSA will accept the technology.
(To see more about the Lexus with the first sideview cameras, Click Here.)
It has authorized the use of windshield-mounted camera mirrors, but manufacturers have to design them so that a driver can flip back and forth between a conventional, reflective view and the videoscreen.