Honda has revealed that its upcoming Honda e electric city car will be equipped with standard sideview cameras instead of mirrors, a move that likely means it won’t be available in North America (at least not equipped as such).
The vehicle is not the first production vehicle to use the sideview cameras instead of side mirrors (although it is a first in the compact segment), but it is the first to make them standard fitment. Side mirrors are government regulated in the US and Canada, which means the cameras can’t be used here. Audi and Lexus both have vehicles that offer sideview cameras instead of mirrors, but they’re options, which means they just aren’t available here.
The bad part is that the digital feature does offer benefits over reflective surfaces — they sit closer to the body panel (within the width of the wheel arches), which means they improve aerodynamics (reportedly by as much as 90% over mirror housings, contributing a reported 3.8% improvement overall), reducing wind noise and making them less prone to be knocked off in a side-swipe. And they look nicer too, instead of the Dumbo-like protrusions sticking out of the sides of the cabin.
Critics will point to propensity for surface dirt obstructing visibility (certainly not something mirrors are immune to), but Honda states the design and a water-repellant lens coating keeps visibility HD-sharp.
Honda also reports that blind spots are reduced by about 10%, or as much as 50% in wide-angle view (which drivers can choose through the vehicle settings menu), and that safety is improved while reversing because the camera angle changes and “guide” lines are superimposed over the view.
Further, the screen brightness is adjusted for low-light conditions, while resolution is boosted without the “dazzle” and glare common to non-dimming mirrors.
The production version of the Honda e will be unveiled later in 2019. The prototype made its debut at this year’s Geneva Motor Show held in March.