By on October 25, 2018

Lexus has announced the 2019 ES sedan for Japan, saying the model will further enhance ride comfort and driving dynamics in its seventh generation while also raising consumer expectations of the tech that goes into making a premium vehicle. Don’t start groaning yet; this doesn’t have anything to do with overblown self-driving capabilities. Toyota’s luxury arm wouldn’t do that to you.

Instead, the ES will become the first production vehicle to replace conventional side mirrors with optional cameras. Dubbed “Digital Side-View Monitors,” the system use exterior cameras mounted on the front doors to transmit images to two 5-inch monitors inside the cabin at the base of each A-pillar. 

The benefits, according to Lexus, are reduced wind noise and and superior forward views out of the side windows. We’d imagine the real appeal is having one up on your neighbors, as they certainly won’t have digital mirrors on their car.

However, your neighborhood had better be in Japan if this kind of social gamesmanship appeals to you. Safety regulations in the United States will prohibit the camera system’s implementation here, leaving you to suffer with regular old side mirrors. But that doesn’t leave Toyota’s New Global Architecture K platform with nothing to offer. The ES comes with a comprehensive and high-tech safety suite, that includes pre-collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, intelligent high beams, dynamic cruise control with road-sign assist, lane departure warning with steering assist, and lane-tracing assist.

Engine options include a 3.5-liter V6 running 302 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed automatic on the ES 300. Meanwhile, the 300h receives a hybridized 2.5-liter inline-four.

Lexus’ engineers claim to have implemented the highest levels of sound absorption, sound insulation, and canceling measures possible to ensure a quiet ride. This includes alterations to the car’s exterior shape, developed through many hours of wind-tunnel testing, and further improved by those slimmer digital side mirrors.

Larger, lighter, and better looking than the outgoing ES, the 2019 model seems to go the extra mile to exude a premium feel. While luxury seems to be the primary design focus, Lexus hasn’t ignored dynamics. Interior controls wrap around the pilot to give easy access and the manufacturer has promised the wider exterior proportions and tires will serve to enhance handling and overall stability.

Lexus also said the front shock absorbers of any ES not featuring fancy Adaptive Variable Suspension will be equipped with a new ultra low-velocity valve in the piston that manages oil flow “in response to the most minor of road irregularities and generates appropriate damping force.”

Everything we’ve mentioned, save for the side cameras, should be available in North America. However, Lexus will likely make a follow-up announcement for this market.

[Images: Lexus]

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32 Comments on “2019 Lexus ES Becomes First Production Car to Replace Side Mirrors With Cameras...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Didn’t we already read this about a month ago? Also, coming to the US in about 2058, right?

  • avatar
    redapple

    Superfluous Complexity

    • 0 avatar
      dantes_inferno

      More electronic gadgets = additional components to break.

      Items manufactured today are commodities with built-in planned obsolescence. The goal is to last a year or two (or until the warranty expires) before the eventual need for replacement with a “new and improved” item.

      Sorry. Not interested.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo2

        Is that why cara last 3 times longer than they did 30 years ago?

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          Sssshhh! You’ll crack his rose tinted specs.

          • 0 avatar
            Groovypippin

            “I like my cars simple and crappy” – classic car enthusiasts. My father, who was in the car business for nearly 50 years loved regaling us with tales of PDIing Fords in the 1970s and how the techs used 2X4s and a sledge hammer to bang the doors into alignment so they would actually close properly. Ah, the good old days.

          • 0 avatar
            dantes_inferno

            > Is that why cara last 3 times longer than they did 30 years ago?

            1. Spelling is fundamental.

            2. My three vehicles are 30, 20, and 15 years old, respectively. Still running. 30 year old vehicle restoration nearly complete (antique vehicle with over 100,000 miles). 20 year old vehicle is a 2500-lb restomod pushing 250hp at the wheels after replacing the original 400,000 mile powertrain. 15 year old vehicle is over 350,000 miles and still solid as a rock. Majority of engine components are steel, aluminum and iron which still outlast the plastic engine components of today’s vehicles (I’m taking to you, BMW and others). I perform the majority of maintenance on all three. Unlike arm-chair enthusiasts such as you and jimz, I walk the walk.

            3. Newer vehicles are bean-counter engineered commodity appliances with an overabundance of plastic (including the engine components) designed to last as long as the warranty. Which is why most people ditch their cars right before the warranty expires (pretty much sinks your argument about newer cars lasting much longer).

            4. Owners of older vehicles usually average 10+ years or more of ownership since they were much better built than these technology-laden new vehicles.

            5. Regarding newer vehicles, there exists a giant elephant in the room the automotive industry wants to keep quiet regarding direct injection: Carbon buildup on the intake valves. Recent magic tricks employed by most vehicle manufacturers (altering the intake valve timing, PCV system redesign, etc.) have mitigated the problem – somewhat. But those measures will only delay the inevitable because the problem is one of a physical design. Add the complexity of additional components needed for direct injection (in-tank primer pump, camshaft-driven high-pressure injector pump, etc.) and you now have additional parts which can potentially break.

            6. Regarding my rose-tinted glasses, I would like to own a pair someday. Do you have any recommendations on vendors who sell them?

  • avatar
    phxmotor

    Excellent idea. About time.
    It’s going to add 40,000 extra sales.
    Nice.

    • 0 avatar
      dantes_inferno

      The stages of rampant consumerism:

      1. Buy (or lease) item.
      2. Replace with the “latest and greatest” iteration of said item within the requisite 1 to 3-year window (the period of time in which the ego-satisfying novelty of owning original item begins to wear off).
      3. Rinse and repeat.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Is making the side-view “mirror” a hair less tall really that big of a deal for fuel efficiency or noise? They don’t look *that* much different from the old-fashioned kind, except for being a metric ass-load more expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo2

      How do you figure? An OEM power, heated side view mirror for an ES is $271.71. A camera chip is $3 and a 6” screen is $20 at most. Check out the prices on Alibaba for bulk (+1000) orders for those parts. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the cost to manufacture a screen and sensor assembly is lower than the motors, gears, electronic controls and heated mirror that is currently used.

      https://m.alibaba.com/product/965215483/ES-1-2-3-Inch-14mp.html?subject=ES–1–2–3–Inch–14mp&detailId=965215483&redirect=1

      • 0 avatar
        ravenuer

        Are you comparing the retail price of a mirror with the wholesale price of the camera? If so, your point is…..

        • 0 avatar
          jmo2

          No. I’m pointing out how cheap these things have become. If you want to talk retail, a 16MP camera with screen is currently for sale at Target for 17.99. A Kindle Fire with a 6” screen, CPU, 8GB of memory and 2MP camera retails for $49.99.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            both of those things would last about 8 seconds when tested for automotive environmental/durability requirements.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo2

            JimZ,

            Please expound on the technical differences between a Fire screen and one used in an automotive application.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo2

            A quick googling says tablet vs. automotive cost difference is 2.5x to
            meet humidity, temp, etc specs. That still brings the retail price of a camera and screen assembly below the retail replacement cost of a traditional mirror assembly.

          • 0 avatar
            ravenuer

            Well, ok, but then what’s Lexus’ cost for their heated side view mirror….20 bucks?

          • 0 avatar
            jmo2

            Gross margins in the industry run about 30% so that’s $190.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        Most of the cost for an OEM mirror will be the color-keyed custom housing. The actual mirror glass and motors are not particularly expensive. (I’m going to guess that the motors, heater, harness, etc., are straight out of the Toyota parts bin.)

        You can’t compare the cost for a couple bottom-rent Alibaba components to a complete OEM mirror assembly.

        • 0 avatar
          dantes_inferno

          >You can’t compare the cost for a couple bottom-rent Alibaba components to a complete OEM mirror assembly.

          Shhh! Don’t you know it’s not a wise move to upset a technology fetishist? It may induce a passive-aggressive tantrum in said individual.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      I would imagine that for Japan it is the width of the car, including the mirror, that is important as that dictates the tax band.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    The repost store called, they’re running out of you

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2018/09/digital-side-mirrors-become-a-production-reality-but-you-cant-get-your-hands-on-one-just-yet/

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Oh wow! So much different on the outside!

    And looks so well integrated inside! Amazing!

    The old Garmin I suck on the windshield of my corolla with the suction cup looks better integrated than this thing.

    So stupid.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Yeah this looks like an aftermarket joke. If you are going to get rid of mirrors then you better hide the camera in a TINY housing. Same goes for the screens, why not use Honda’s system where the images appears in the center screen.

  • avatar
    earthwateruser

    Jeezus, when will it end? I suppose it would be safer, and quieter, to eliminate ALL car windows and replace them with solid body panel with a big displays on the inside fed by a zillion tiny cameras on the outside. You could adjust the screens to give the world a nice rosy hue if you wanted. Some additional enhancements and you could turn all other cars into roadgoing blimps or chickens of various sizes perhaps? AND NOBODY COULD SEE IN THE CAR. Bow chicka bow wow…

    • 0 avatar
      Drew8MR

      I dunno, I’m all for replacing the mirrors with cameras, and my ideal interior is basically a TR3. As long as the rear camera display is in the traditional rear view mirror position that is. I think having traditional mirror sized camera pods on the exterior is stupid though.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      Is that not the eventual endgame of the SUV/CUV race? Sit up tall with huge blindspots, a car that looks more like a military vehicle than a family runaround.

      Pillarbox windows, cameras showing the front an side views transmitted on screens. Soccer moms rejoice.

  • avatar
    dantes_inferno

    YES! Let’s reduce the driver’s already-diminishing sense of situational awareness (being aware of one’s surroundings), and focus all of the driver’s attention on the center display instead of the road where the focus ACTUALLY belongs.

    Better still, to further “enhance” driver involvement – integrate the smart phone as a touch display on the center console as well. Wouldn’t want the smart phone to be neglected while driving now, would we?

    That’ll work…

  • avatar
    jfb43

    The way Honda does it (cameras to supplement actual mirrors) is a good idea. I’d like to see more cameras mounted on the front corners of bumpers for cross traffic visibility. This just seems like they’re changing for the sake of change.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    “The benefits, according to Lexus, are reduced wind noise and and superior forward views out of the side windows.”

    The benefit, according to Lexus internal sales documents, is being able to crow about having two more iPad screens in the car.

    Because everyone loves seeing the iPad screens in the car.

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