The new Swedish-made Polestar 4 will be the first car on UK roads to replace a rear window (and traditional rear-view mirror) with a high-definition screen showing a real-time roof-mounted camera feed.
Two Digital Cameras With Feed Displayed In ‘Mirror’
In fact, instead of a traditional rearview mirror, the Polestar 4 has a high-resolution rear-view display in the shape and in the place of a normal mirror that receives the feed from the two roof-mounted digital cameras. Polestar describes this as a kind of 2-way mirror because it also doubles as a regular mirror, making it possible to switch between the live feed and a view of the rear passengers.
Already On The Road In China
The new Polestar 4 SUV coupe has been on the road in China since December and there have been no publicised problems.
Polestar says the benefits of making the rear window obsolete and relying on a camera view instead are that: “It allows for an extended panoramic roof, a spacious passenger environment, and generous headroom, while a rear-facing HD camera provides a wider, unobstructed rearward view.”
Necessary Because Head Structure Was Pushed Back To Make More Room
As highlighted by the BBC’s UK motoring programme ‘TopGear,’ replacing the mirror and back window with a camera feed was less of a decision to include technology and more of a design necessity. This is because the desire to create a feeling of spaciousness and extra headroom in the Polestar 4 required pulling the header structure back as far as possible so that the panoramic roof stretches behind the rear passengers’ heads. This would have meant that a back window would be below the actual sightline anyway, thereby meaning a traditional rearview mirror would be useless.
Although there haven’t been any prominent stories emerging about issues, some concerns have been floated on the Polestar Forum. For example, one user says the rearview camera puts “everything in equal focus so nothing is unseen or blurry, but then you lose any accurate depth perception”. Another expresses concern that although they have designed the roof camera “not to get dirty,” they “simultaneously say manual cleaning is recommended”.
That said, others see the camera as a plus. For example, another forum contributor makes the point that “rear view is already just about gone especially with my kids’ car/booster seats taking up all but the middle few inches of view; this would be a net plus for me in that respect”.
For those concerned about the idea of no traditional rearview mirror, it’s worth remembering that many vans with solid back doors don’t have rearview mirrors anyway, and some trucks now have cameras instead of wing mirrors. Many drivers will also be familiar with driving behind cars that have so much stuff in the back that the rearview mirror is likely to be useless anyway. Also, with passengers in the back of the car, the rearview is often obscured.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The Volvo-owned sub-brand Polestar is associated with sleek modern design and technology – perhaps in a similar space to Tesla so it’s not a huge surprise that it would opt for this kind of change. Also, as the boss of Polestar pointed out in a recent interview, being relatively new on the scene, it doesn’t have a legacy of customers to disappoint, or who are likely to object and complain. In fact, the removal of the back window and replacement with a camera-feed mirror actually seems to have been a necessary design change in order to make the car feel more spacious rather than purely a decision to include more new technology.
Thinking about it logically, if you accept that many vans on the road don’t have rear windows or rearview mirrors, and assuming we trust reversing cameras and then consider the fact that there hasn’t been a huge outcry about the gradual introduction of autonomous vehicles to UK roads, this change by Polestar shouldn’t seem too scary. It seems that as we experience (and trust) technology more, we’re willing to give more ground to it and swap more first-hand and ‘real’ experiences for virtual ones, even while travelling at speed. That said, Polestar says that its 2-way mirror actually gives a better and wider view of the road than a traditional mirror.
The hope is, of course, that the cameras don’t get dirty, and that the camera/mirror system doesn’t fail (there’s always the side mirrors if it does). It’s likely that in the quest for more comfortable and spacious vehicle interiors, other vehicle manufacturers will opt for a similar system.