How much is enough?

This is a GM thing so it’s quite possible we may end up seeing it in future Saabs, The new 9-5 might be a distinct possibility.

Leftlane News recently did an article on GM interior developments and one of the items they had on there was this rear view ‘mirror’, which looks like it’s actually an LCD screen showing the view provided by a rear-mounted camera.


I’d just like to pose the question: Is there really a need for this or are we starting to get into the realm of technology for technology’s sake?


The positives:

1) full screen view of what’s going on out the back.

2) vision maintained even if your rear window is fogged


The negatives:

1) Another damn electronic gizmo to go wrong

2) Lack of perspective

3) More wires = more weight

4) I’m used to manouvering my head around occasionally to see extra bits. Can’t do that here.

5) Potential focus problems


I know that as time goes on, things advance. But is this really an advance? How many electronic driving aides do we really need and how long before the experience of driving is so weighed down with gadgets that we lose the real experience all together?

Maybe I’m alone on this, but I hope the guys and girls designing the Saabs of the future don’t ever forget this guy….


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  1. I can’t help but wonder how much money was wasted on the development of this. It might be okay for a large metro bus, but for a passenger car…it’s just a useless gadget.

  2. I see this often in my business — someone wants notebooks for their sales staff, technicians, etc. just because they think that it’s a good thing. No thought as to how it will be used, the effectiveness, etc.

    Swade’s right — technology for the sake of technology is bad. Vive le C900!

  3. My guess is that this mirror is intended for future SUV or minivan models, whose blind spots are as large as a Scania truck. Arguably, wagons have sizable blind spots (compared to the sedans).

    Rear parking sensors (such as the ones on my 9-3 Aero SC) are great, but having a view of the back below the rear window would be an asset for any vehicle-especially SUVs (of which some do have back up cameras as an option).

  4. A car optioned up perfectly for me was my 1995 Saturn SL2. It had the hot engine, A/C, cruise and THAT WAS IT. No power gizmos, no fancy schmancy frilly garbage. And guess what- in 250k miles, it was in the shop twice; once to replace a clicking odometer (at 20k miles) and once to repair body damage (not the car’s fault). No problems with my power seats loosening up (like my Explorer). No problems with electroic readouts. No weird issues with electronic suspensions or climate controls (like an Infiniti Q45). Just a plain old car that would last forever and was fun to drive. The one option I wish it DID have, however, was power locks. It’s amazing how spoiled you get with keyless entry! 🙂

    Truthfully, I think all this technology is making people inattentive. A Lexus even parks itself now (sort of). If you can’t park you OWN CAR, you shouldn’t be driving! 😛

  5. People are paying for rear-view cameras in various vehicles today so I see this as a good idea. LCD technology is here and if I can have the clarity of display that I do on my cell phones then making a rear-view mirror do the same is not rocket science and shouldn’t present any serious reliability issues. The camera would obviously need to be mounted in such a way that it is almost completely tamper-proof but I think this is a pretty cool idea. It gives you a full view of what’s behind the car rather than a view that is obscured by B, C and sometimes D pillars, or small rear windows (think convertibles). There would definitely need to be a re-learning by the driver to drive with such a system, and the LCD would need to flip up out of the way for a traditional mirror in the event of some sort of technical glitch.

  6. What happens when the rearview-camera gets dirty or covered with snow…? Maybe you could have a small wiper just for the camera…? I think a TV-system like this must be separate, maybe it could be a switchable mirror, so you could choose when to select the camera view. And only if it offers extra safety, like infrared vision or a view of the area just behind the car when backing up.

  7. I would think that this would be handy, as others have mentioned, in large SUVs with reduced rear visibility.

    Or maybe in a car that’s designed so that the rear window is very small, maybe for aerodynamic purposes. I’m thinking like the Lotus Esprit. Everyone complains that it was very difficult to see out the back of that car.

    I too like manual better than automatic for the most part. I was scared off of electronic “conveniences” when I was young because my dad owned a Ford Aerostar (an early minivan) and the passenger window electric motor failed. The dealer wanted hundreds of dollars for a new motor! My dad had to pay it because the window was partially stuck down and the rain could get in. He wished he had manual crank windows at the time. I mean, how much harder is it to crank a window open or closed?

    By increasing complexity of a machine you increase the chance of failure.

  8. Indeed your statement’s right, Gripen- more complexities=more potential for breakdown.

    How about this though:

    Instead of creating the mirror for the large SUV with reduced rear visibility, let’s just get rid of the large SUV. Problem solved! 🙂

  9. Agree with Swade. While there are some benefits, the negatives (and potential dangerous consequences) outweigh the benefits.

    I suspect with all the backlash against the German Big 3’s Buck Rogers cockpits (MMI, iDrive, COMAND), Saab may be watching (and laughting) from the sidelines and decidely will go against the grain (as Saab always have) and steer away from the hyper-technocratic driver environment.

    That’s why I highly applaud the GM infotainment/HVAC layouts in the new 9-3 and 9-5 (haha, got your water pistol ready, Swade ?) because spiritually they are faithful to Saab’s core design values and ethos.

    So if anything, we may more likley see this type of synthetic, projected rearview system on M-Bs & BMWs (“which menu/submenu activates the damned rearview mirror ?!?!?”) than on Saabs and Cadillacs.

  10. I think it looks cool, wether it is overkill or not. Which it likely is.
    However is there anything that should be fitted to SAABs? I think a version the Merc and BMW night vision system would be top of my list. Some one mentioned a Lexus self parking – the new Volswagen Touran actually does self park. It would be at the bottom of my list of systems to have on my car. As for reliablility I have never, ever had a car break down on on me in 15 years of driving and lets face it that why they give you a warranty.

  11. This type of device could open up a new era in car design by eliminating the necessity of a rear window. Without a rear window designers would have a free reign for new innovations from the c column back. Just from a practical point of view the complete elimination of blind spots is huge, as well if the rear window is surplus then the weight of the car is reduced(glass is much heavier than steel) , cost savings from no window, no rear electric defogger wiring etc etc. Overall a great technology!

  12. i think there’d still have to be a rear window–…”redundancy”….

    as for legitimacy, clearly it’s unnecessary; but if you’re in a “premium” market, this is the “mindset” in which you have to be. otherwise, you look “bereft.” maybe it shouldn’t go in all models, but should be an option.

  13. And Aeronaut, why not black out the entire car and have a virtual “outside” view projected by HUD or wrap-around LCD monitors inside the car for the driver ? Eventually, human drivers can be replaced completely and we’ll have remotely-controlled Saabs on the road driven by people sitting at home via a real-time control console. And we can give virtual Saab waves to other Saabs ……..

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