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Ford Adds Digital Rearview Mirrors To Transit, E-Transit Vans

Ford Pro, the business-oriented group for Ford customers, has added a digital rearview to the E-Transit van. The rearview gives you real-time imagery of what is happening behind the truck in video mode. It's very clear and detailed.
Posted: February 24, 2023 - 2:29PM
Author: Marc Stern

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If you follow automotive technology, you have probably encountered more than one instance where an automaker has decided or is deciding whether to replace traditional items like glass-based sideview mirrors or rearview mirrors with camera technology.

Video Technology Has Been Around Awhile

For example, in 2015, video technology was part of the technology suite offered to owners of Ford Fusions and other Ford vehicles. A standard backup camera above the license plate yields a wide field of view that adds to a driver’s safety when traveling in reverse. The wide-angle display is quite good and also offers a closeup feature. Located in the center of the dash panel, it helps you to see whether there is vehicle or pedestrian traffic or a pedestrian or two to the rear of your car that you may have missed.

For example, the rearview camera in the Fusion has more than once prevented parking lot dustups that occurred as other drivers backed out of their parking spaces without looking. Indeed, a couple of days ago, while running some errands, I began to pull out of my parking space, watching all around my vehicle. With my foot on the brake, I watched a small drama unfold behind my Fusion. As I watched, an Audi SUV, which sits higher than most lower-slung cars, hit reverse and pulled right out of its parking space. Meantime, a small 2006 or 2007 Toyota Corolla was also pulling out quite carefully. It was a good thing the Toyo was creeping backward because that Audi was driving as if it was the only vehicle in the parking lot.

Amid screeching tires and more nasty words, after which the Toyota driver darted back into the space it had exited, the Audi driver fumed. Do you think the Audi driver even intended to apologize or have a civil word with the Toyo driver? No, he didn’t. Indeed, he threw his vehicle into Drive and was off with a tire chirp. That he shouldn’t have chirped the tires in a supermarket parking lot never seemed to have occurred to him

Backup cameras are a great use of this technology. Backup cameras have been part of the standard equipment of many vehicles for at least two decades. I found out about it when I worked for a car dealership a couple of decades ago, and we had to move vehicles around when we respotted the lot for weekend business. I first found a backup camera in a 2003 Prius and soon found the same equipment replicated in many of the cars and trucks I handled back then. Indeed, once I handled vehicles with backup video tech, I never gave it much thought because I expected it to be there.

Industry Gets Serious About Video Tech

I started thinking again about this issue a couple of years ago when I handled a few stories about rearview technology. As I read and wrote about it, automakers considered changing from traditional sideview mirrors to sideview cameras. And there were stories about third-party equipment providers adding rear digital cameras via the kit route. At that time, I wondered how long it would take for the auto industry to move from the limited but necessary backup camera tech to heavy-duty digital backup technology.

In the long run of things, I really didn’t have long to wait. It was probably 10 years or so ago when Ford announced that it was expanding the use of the rearview camera, integrating it with the vehicle’s warning system so a driver could tell if there was a vehicle to the rear that was too close or if you were getting two close to a vehicle in another lane as you changed lanes. The safety tech and the video technology were integrated so warnings would sound.

Meanwhile, a lively debate ensued as those automakers who were still undecided about whether to plunge into camera technology for things like rearview and sideview mirrors mulled the issue. The debate was at multiple levels. The automakers themselves had to decide whether to add digital rearview and sideview mirrors based on camera technology. Meanwhile, the federal safety establishment also had to figure out where to put this type of mirror, as there were no rules under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) as they then existed.

Key Part Of The Overall Debate

The important debate was by the federal safety establishment, which determined the standard under which camera tech applied and then wrote the new rules. Though it wasn’t adopted by the industry overnight, it has slowly filtered down from higher-priced models where digital camera tech had become standard (it was also available from the aftermarket).

The resolution was driven by industry and its use of video technology in its safety systems. It doesn’t take much computing to figure that if a carmaker had already integrated backup/rearview technology into its safety package, it is just as easy to add sideview and rearview mirrors. A couple of years ago, before the pandemic shut down things like auto shows, there were concept vehicles from various manufacturers that featured video-based digitized rearview and sideview mirrors.

Ford has joined the movement to digitize reviews in its 2023 Ford Transit and E-Transit vans. Ford Pro, the program which is responsible for the Digital Rearview Mirror, continues to use technology to give its commercial customers a better user experience. At the same time, it also helps them to improve productivity.

Digital Rearview Features High-Def Monitor In Place of Rearview

The Digital Rearview Mirror features a high-definition monitor that displays a panoramic view of the area behind the van, allowing drivers to spot cyclists, pedestrians, and other vehicles, even when a bulkhead, cargo, passengers, or windowless rear doors are in the way.

You can see examples of the Digital Rearview Mirror in action by downloading the video of the digital rearview in action. You can find other examples of what Ford Pro offers by visiting the Ford Pro website.

Please note that the Digital Rearview Mirror is unavailable on Chassis Cab, Cutaway, Transit Trail, and Low-Roof van models.

Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971 when an otherwise normal news editor said, "You're our new car editor," and dumped about 27 pounds of auto stuff on my desk. I was in heaven as I have been a gearhead from my early days. As a teen, I spent many misspent hours hanging out at gas stations (a big thing in my youth) and working on cars. From there on, it was a straight line to my first column for the paper "You Auto Know," an enterprise I handled faithfully for 32 years. Not many people know that I also handled computer documentation for a good part of my earnings while writing YAN. My best writing, though, was always in cars. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, etc. You can follow me on: Twitter or Facebook.

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