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Monday, 4th July 2016
In General Japan News,

Japan leading the way in mirrorless car technology

Mirrorless cars are thought to be the future of automobiles, as opting for unobtrusive camera lenses instead have a number of benefits. These include looking sleeker, improving safety and making vehicles more fuel efficient.

Stylists and engineers have been proposing cars without traditional mirrors for years, but now they are one step closer to becoming a reality. Japan is among just a handful of countries that allows vehicles to be produced and driven without mirrors and with cameras instead, reports Automotive News.

This has led to many suppliers in the nation rushing to get on board with the technology, with Ichikoh Industries among them. Japan has therefore got a head start on setting the trend and could be the first country to make it a reality.

Ichikoh has traditionally been associated with producing lighting and mirrors, but is branching out into this new market. It is currently manufacturing its first product to be included in prototype vehicles.

Ali Ordoobadi, chief executive officer at Ichikoh, told the news provider: "Our job is to improve the visibility of the drive, with lighting and mirrors, but now also with cameras. There is a switch of technology, a kind of rupture. It's a really new segment with higher content, and that means higher revenue opportunities. This is the trend, and we have to be in front of the others."

Choosing to install cameras over mirrors could help car manufacturers overcome two of the biggest challenges they face – safety and fuel efficiency. The wide angle view of mirrors helps to minimise blind spots and digital compensation helps to cut down glare, darkness and adverse climate conditions.

Weighing less than mirrors, cameras typically reduce drag and therefore lift fuel economy. The more streamlined body silhouettes of vehicles without mirrors are also likely to appeal to car designers and customers alike.

The product under development by Ichikoh at the moment is an interior rearview mirror that has two functions. Firstly, it operates as a mirror in the traditional sense, but the flick of a switch turns it into a digital screen broadcasting a live video feed of the car’s rear view.

It’s to be known as the Smart Rear View Monitor and has been specially commissioned for a car set to go on sale in Japan this August. Ichikoh has not named the carmaker, but has confirmed it will feature in a midrange, low-volume nameplate vehicle.

The rules to allow cars to be manufactured without mirrors were only changed by the regulators in Japan on June 17th this year (2016). It’s clear to see that those in the industry are keen to get ahead of the curve and implement the technology as a result.

It comes in the wake of the United Nations' World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations updating its guidelines. It approved the use of cameras that adhere to certain specifications instead of mirrors.

Tetsuya Saito, section chief on engineering policy at Japan's Road Transport Bureau, said: "The UN regulations have standards that clearly determine high-performance specs. Until now, camera monitors haven't been introduced to replace mirrors because they didn't have sufficient visibility."