Yokohama, Japan - Don’t look now, but the traditional rear view mirror is about to be consigned to the scrap heap.
Nissan is ready to replace the mirror with a screen showing footage from a camera mounted on the back of the car.
The carmaker claims that its redesigned rear view mirror will boost safety because the image seen by the driver will not be obscured by back-seat passengers, headrests, piled-up luggage or dirty rear windscreens.
It will also allow rear windows to be made smaller – allowing cars to be more streamlined and aerodynamic – which in turn will help cut fuel consumption.
The ‘smart mirror’ with its LCD monitor is housed within the same structure as a conventional rear view mirror.
However it renders normal visibility obstructions – such as the pillars either side of the window – “a non-issue”, a Nissan spokesman said, adding: “Rearward visibility from conventional rear view mirrors can be obstructed when there are tall passengers sitting in the rear seats, or when luggage has been stacked high in the rear compartment.
“However with the electronic mirror, rearward visibility is free from obstructions. This helps the driver get a much better view of the traffic conditions.”
Nissan’s Andy Palmer said: “Smart rear view mirrors will give our customers the best possible view – no matter how tall the passengers in the back seat of the car are and no matter how bad the road conditions are.
“It also offers the possibility of new and exciting designs because it gives us an alternative to a very wide rear window while preserving good visibility.”
The camera works well in rain and snow and at dawn and dusk, and crucially can be switched off to allow the mirror to revert to a conventional reflection if drivers want to check their appearance.
Because despite putting themselves at risk of fines as well as penalty points, some 42 percent of women admit they use rear view mirrors to adjust their make-up.
The car company says the technology is ready to be rolled out in Japan, and will be phased in across the rest of the world in 2015. Nissan also plans to use the mirror in its ZEOD RC race car in the Le Mans 24-hour race.
Nissan’s race car president Shoichi Miyatani said: “Under the harsh driving conditions in the world of motorsports, retaining a clear view for the race driver is of the utmost importance. The smart rear view mirror will be a powerful tool for our drivers. We also have high expectations towards improving the cars’ aerodynamic design.”