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Death of the car wing mirror: New all-electric Audi e-tron ditches door mirrors and replaces them with live video feed from hi-tech cameras (so cyclists can still knock them off)

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 04/12/2018 Ray Massey For Mailonline And This Is Money
Rearview mirror at the car © jarino47 Rearview mirror at the car

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Audi is sounding the death-knell for traditional wing mirrors by replacing them on its first ever electric car with all-seeing hi-tech video cameras and screens.

The new Launch Edition of Audi’s e-tron is the first mass-production car to ditch conventional reflective mirrors and replace them with a live video stream on screens inside the vehicle.

Instead of the driver looking through their windows into wing mirrors, the £82,240 five-seater SUV has replaced them with streamlined side-mounted video cameras and a live feed.

The rear facing cameras feed moving images into special touchscreens embedded inside the doors. This gives the driver an unimpeded view of what’s happening behind.

The cameras automatically adapt their view to cope with motorway driving, turning and parking - and the driver can even use the touch screen to zoom-in on specific trouble spots.

a car parked in front of a mirror: Audi has replaced wing mirrors with slimline side-mounted cameras on its new e-tron electric car - these send a live feed of what's behind onto a touchscreen in the door © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Audi has replaced wing mirrors with slimline side-mounted cameras on its new e-tron electric car - these send a live feed of what's behind onto a touchscreen in the door

The battery-powered Audi e-tron SUV accelerates from rest to 62mph in under six seconds, has a top speed of 124mph and a range of 248 miles.

It is having its global launch in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, this week.

The e-tron is the first step in the German carmaker's plans to take on electric car pioneer Tesla and established manufacturers’ emerging battery-powered vehicles, such as Jaguar’s I-Pace.

Its price tag puts the e-tron firmly in the luxury bracket, with three trim versions available to order in the UK early next year priced from £71,490.

Virtual door mirrors will be standard on the £82,000-plus Launch Edition cars and an option on other e-trons.

Prices are before the deduction of the government’s £3,500 green subsidy.

The law on wing mirrors in the UK 

The cameras are much less bulky than a conventional car wing mirror, but are likely to be even more expensive to replace if damaged © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The cameras are much less bulky than a conventional car wing mirror, but are likely to be even more expensive to replace if damaged It has been a legal requirement since 1978 to have at least one wing mirror fitted to all cars sold in Britain. 

However, you legally need two working mirrors – including the internal rear-view mirror - and one must be on the driver's side.

Elmer Berger is commonly considered the inventor of the rear-view mirror having received the first patent for a car mirror in 1921.

However, their ad hoc use long before then was noted, with pioneer woman motor racer Dorothy Levitt publishing advice in a 1909 motoring book urging drivers to use a long-handled mirror to check the road behind.

a close up of a car: The e-tron is Audi's answer to the electric car challenge from Tesla and rival established carmakers, such as Jaguar with its I-Pace © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The e-tron is Audi's answer to the electric car challenge from Tesla and rival established carmakers, such as Jaguar with its I-Pace An Audi spokesman said: ‘The camera never lies, which is just as well because in the Audi e-tron Launch Edition two high definition cameras replace the door mirrors, bringing advantages in all-weather visibility, safety and aerodynamics’.

Until now virtual door mirror technology has been seen only on prototype concept cars - or on specially built supercars such as Bugattis - although Toyota and Lexus have announced plans to launch digital side view mirrors in Japan.

Audi’s switch saves around about six inches (15 cm) on the overall width of the car, which should make parking and manoeuvring into tight spaces easier.

Images from the cameras are displayed on two Organic Light Emitting Diode screens, similar to those used on modern TVs and smart phones. OLED gives an enhanced and sharper image.

Audi claimed the e-tron means that ’virtual exterior mirrors are available for the first time on a series production car.’

The mirror-cameras have a high resolution of 1,280 x 1,080 pixels and even a degree of self-cleaning, Audi says.

a car parked in a parking lot: The high-tech interior of the Audi e-tron includes a central touchscreen, the firm's virtual cockpit behind the steering wheel and the new door cameras and screens © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The high-tech interior of the Audi e-tron includes a central touchscreen, the firm's virtual cockpit behind the steering wheel and the new door cameras and screens It added: ‘They offer good all-weather visibility thanks to a heating function which prevents the units from misting over or freezing, and also activates when the camera sensors detect dirt.

’The cameras control the brightness of the image automatically in accordance with the environmental conditions, for instance when driving through a tunnel.

‘And they automatically adapt their view to various driving situations, including motorway driving, turning and parking.

‘Proximity sensors within the driver’s display allow various settings to be adjusted by touch by placing a finger closer to the surface, including the field of vision and the degree of zoom.’

The new Audi e-tron is powered by a 95kWh 36-cell battery system underneath the passenger compartment, which drives two electric motors that allow it to accelerate from rest to 62mph in just 5.7 seconds and continue on to a governed top speed 124mph.

It has a claimed range of 248 miles and can achieve 80 per cent of its charge in just 30 minutes using a high-power fast-charging 150kW DC charger.

a blue car parked on the side of a building: The new Launch Edition Audi e-tron will cost from £82,240 when it goes on sale © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The new Launch Edition Audi e-tron will cost from £82,240 when it goes on sale

The Audi e-tron Launch Edition

On sale: From spring 2019  

Price: £82,240 

Drive: All-wheel drive, automatic

Top speed: 124mph 

0-62mph: 5.7 seconds.

CO2 emissions: zero

Charging: Up to 80% in 30 minutes at 150kW fast-charging points    

Length: 4,901mm

Width: 1,938mm

Height: 1,692mm

Wheelbase: 2,928mm

Weight: 2,490kg

Battery: 95kWh Lithium ion.

Electric Motors: 2, developing 408 horse-power

Gallery: Driving mistakes everyone makes – and how to fix them [Autocar]

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