The problem with being in the sales business is the need to constantly outdo your rivals. Automakers know this better than just about anyone, which is why you see gimmicky features installed into vehicles that probably would have been just as good without them. But one never knows what’s going to catch on with consumers and you’ll never catch the big one if you don’t go fishing, so you’ll see patents filed on just about everything.
BMW has reportedly done just that with its new virtual mirror technology system that merges camera-based mirrors with olde-tyme projection technologies. The purpose appears to be something that replicates the experience of traditional side mirrors (which work fine) while adding some modern features that can only be accomplished using the newer stuff.
Ford is recalling over 700,0000 vehicles in North America over poor electrical connections that can put the rearview camera display on the fritz. The feed runs the risk of providing drivers a corrupted image or cutting out intermittently, raising crash risks, and violating present-day vehicle safety mandates. While the tried and true method of turning one’s head and using the mirrors should allow for drama-free parking, Ford is still under obligation to repair these systems.
Documents submitted to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) have indicated that affected models include Ford’s Edge, Escape, Expedition, Explorer, F-150, F-250, F-350, F-450, F-550, Mustang, Ranger, and Transit vehicles from the 2020 model year. Lincoln will also be recalling the 2020 Lincoln Corsair and Nautilus.
Even though automakers routinely preview concept and prototype vehicles with camera mounts replacing traditional side and rear-view mirrors, you’ll have to wait a while before the technology makes its way to production vehicles. While Japan thinks ditching mirrors for a digital display is sugoi (Japanese for hunky-dory), other nations have maintained some amount of trepidation in embracing the technology.
For our purposes, both Canada and the United States have examined the matter, yet neither feels ready to make any industry-altering decisions. Supplier Magna International says that’s okay — it’ll be ready to hook up North America with the applicable hardware when the time comes. Plenty of downsides can be found in swapping out traditional mirrors, offsetting some of the benefits, and lawmakers need to figure out how to manage that when it comes time to redefine automotive regulations.