Aerodynamics play a big role in fuel economy and, in electric vehicles like those built by Tesla Motors, range, which is why side-view mirrors are such a drag, literally.
By law, every vehicle in the US needs to have these side-view mirrors, but at every car show, we see a concept car without side mirrors, tiny rear-view cameras in their place. By the time these vehicles make it to the production lines, however, the tiny cameras are replaced by real glass mirrors, such as we’ve been used to for decades. The problem with side-view mirrors, aside from getting knocked off by people who don’t know how big their vehicles are, is they seriously wreck a vehicle’s aerodynamics. Tesla Motors has joined a petition asking the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) for permission to do away with side-view mirrors.
Interestingly, the NHTSA has already passed a law mandating rear-view cameras in every production vehicle by May, 2018, so the logical next step would be to eliminate side-view mirrors that are dragging down conventional vehicle fuel economy and Tesla Motors electric vehicle range. Instead of a bulky side-view mirror, typically containing electric motors, heating elements, auxiliary lighting, blind-spot monitoring, and the glass mirror, of course, a tiny stalk with a camera would continuously transmit the side view of the car and the next lane to a video display inside the vehicle. Automakers could even put LED marker lights on it if necessary, even fold it flush when not in use.
The changes might not seem all that drastic, but every little bit counts when working to streamline a vehicle. Tesla Motors has already done wonders with the Tesla Model S, making it streamlined and sexy, cutting through the air, but removing side-mirrors would be another step toward aerodynamic perfection. Tesla Motors isn’t alone, however, the petition includes leaders in the automotive world, including Toyota Motor Company, Volkswagen AG, and General Motors. Might this change how we see out of our vehicles? More importantly, will they be safer?
Image © Tesla Motors