Audi said the optional side-view camera system for the 2019 e-tron electric vehicle is the world's first series-production use of camera technology to replace traditional sideview mirrors. (Audi)

Audi confirms e-tron EV to use cameras instead of side mirrors

In what is claimed to be the world’s first series-production application of camera technology to replace exterior side-view mirrors, Audi announced that its upcoming e-tron electric vehicle (EV) will offer the aerodynamic drag-reducing camera mirrors for the 2019 e-tron when it launches later this year.

The optional side-view cameras will for now be available only in markets that have granted regulatory approval of the technology; the U.S., for one, has yet to approve side-view cameras for production vehicles. Japan in 2016 adopted new regulations to allow for use of side-view cameras and other “mirror-less” technology and in 2015 the United Nations World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations approved side-view cameras that can comply with specific performance and placement standards.

What a drag (not)
For the 2019 e-tron, Audi said in a release accompanying a preview of the production model’s interior that the new side-view cameras help contribute to the vehicle’s overall drag coefficient of 0.28, an impressively low drag figure for an SUV body shape. The company said the e-tron’s slippery form “contributes decisively” to the EV’s 400-km (249-mile) driving range that is based on the Worldwide Light-vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) drive cycle.

“A hundredth of the drag-coefficient figure represents a range of around 5 km (3.1 miles) driving under everyday conditions,” Audi added. The company further said that the e-tron’s aerodynamic optimization equates to roughly 35 km (21.7 miles) of added driving range per full battery charge.

Audi also said the virtual mirrors reduce the e-tron’s overall width by a substantial 15 cm (5.9 in).

And the new camera-based technology offers other functional enhancements: the camera images are digitally processed and shown on high-contrast, 7-in. (178-mm) OLED displays near each door. The company said the driver can select various display settings and “the user can also zoom in and out of the image. The driver can choose from three views for different situations—for highway driving, for turning and for parking.”

Audi has yet to show the e-tron’s exterior in full-production guise, choosing to continue showing its first-ever battery-electric vehicle in camouflage until its official unveiling scheduled for the fall of this year. Audi has called the e-tron a fullsize SUV, although its 5-passenger footprint is likely to place it more in what the U.S. market might consider a midsize model segment. Continue reading »