Recently, Nissan held a special event for automotive journalists, inviting them to the Nashville area, to preview and test-drive the 'full-line' of vehicles. This is similar to other manufacturers' once-a-year event to do likewise. A key standout at the event was a demonstration of the Rear-view Camera.
The Rear-view Camera is not the same as the well-known and popular backup camera. The backup camera is usually mounted near the license plate area of a vehicle, and switches to 'on' whenever the vehicle is placed in Reverse mode. It allows drivers to 'see' what might be behind them as they reverse drive. This has saved many toddlers, pets, and others from a life-threatening accident. It has also prevented the driver from accidentally backing into a pole, concrete bricks, trees, or other immovable objects, thus necessitated an insurance claim or repair job.
The Rear-view Camera is not exclusive to Nissan and others are providing it as an option while many manufacturers are looking closely at the technology. The Rear-view Camera is generally mounted up high on the rear glass area of the vehicle, inside to protect it from the elements, and at the very rear looking outward. This is not the same as the 'all-around' views available on a wide variety of vehicles in today's marketplace.
Nissan provided a special demonstration utilizing a 2014 Nissan Rogue during the event. Elsa Foley is an Industrial Engineer with the Product Planning Division at Nissan Headquarters. She provided non-stop explanations, interviews, and demonstrations to the assorted automotive journalists from the US and Canada. She politely refused to commit to a date of availability, anticipated vehicles, or even an acknowledgment that Nissan would be offering the Rear-view Camera in a vehicle. However, she did mention that the 'switchable' feature is an industry-first, indicating that Nissan appears to be moving ahead rapidly on the concept.
In general terms, there is a small toggle at the back underside of the standard (normal) rear-view mirror. This toggle is very similar in nature and function as the 'dimming' feature on rear-view mirrors from the 50's, 60's, and 70's. A simple flip of the lever and the scene in the rear-view mirror switches from the mirror view through the vehicle and out the back. In seconds, the view now fills the same space as the mirror view, but it is clearer, wider view, and unobstructed – since it is a camera view being taken through the rear glass window or hatchback window area.
Many folks immediately ask, “Why is that so important?” and the answer is simple. We are a nation full of drivers who carry a lot of stuff around with us. We fill out back seats or rear area with boxes, sports equipment, camping gear, and luggage piled as tightly as possible. If it isn't cargo, then headrests, pets, or people might block our view out the rear of the car if we use the rear-view mirror.
While other manufacturers are offering the rear-view cameras on a limited or trial basis, Nissan is the first who will offer a 'Switchable' view with the toggle option to switch between the camera or the mirror.
I had to ask myself, as I do very often, “Why didn't they think of this sooner?” What a terrific idea and I hope to see it to fruition in Nissan as well as other automotive companies.