Tesla Motors and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers want to change the laws dictating the use of side mirrors, replacing them with video cameras. In the never-ending war for better fuel economy, side mirrors are the latest battlefield, and eliminating these aerodynamic anchors could drastically improve the fuel economy of many vehicles.
As Jo has pointed out, making the relatively minor change of removing the side mirror winglets can add as much as 1 MPG to the overall fuel economy of a vehicle like the Ford F-150. By Jo’s estimates, an extra 1 MPG in real world driving would save over 22 million gallons of fuel per year…just on new F-150 sales. So while Ford has gone to great lengths to reduce the drag created by the side mirrors on the 2015 Mustang, and even built the new 2015 F-150 out of aluminum to save weight, getting rid of side mirrors would be an even bigger victory.
Tesla rekindled the passion for wingless cars with Tesla Model X concept, which debuted with video cameras instead of side mirrors…though at the Detroit Auto Show a year later, the Model X wore more traditional sideview mirrors. Volkswagen had the same idea with the XL1 concept, which also debuted sans side mirrors, as these are the cause of a lot of aerodynamic lift, especially at high speeds. Getting rid of those mirrors means much slicker cars, which can go even farther using less energy, whether that be electricity or petrol power.
That’s why the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents Toyota, GM, Volkswagen and most of the other major automakers doing business in America, have joined in Tesla’s efforts to lobby Congress to change the laws to allow video cameras instead of side mirrors. Tesla and AAM submitted a petition yesterday to take the next step towards mirrorless cars. So while GM is resisting Tesla’s efforts to upset the dealer franchise model, they’re on board with Tesla’s efforts to get rid of side mirrors.
While a few years ago such a proposal might seem silly, Congress has opened the floodgates to this kind of lobbying by dictating that all-new vehicles made by 2018 must include a back-up camera as standard equipment. It isn’t much of a jump from there to side cameras, instead of mirrors. I mean, if even the basest of base model vehicles now has to have a monitor on-board, why not use it for more than just backing up or changing radio stations?
Source: Automotive News