Audi's first battery-electric crossover will also usher in radical new technology for the automotive industry. The production e-tron electric crossover will ditch traditional side mirrors and replace them with camera-based digital mirrors, the brand announced on Wednesday.
Unfortunately, we won't see them in the United States due to a lack of regulations allowing them, Audi spokesman Mark Dahncke told Motor Authority.
“The digital mirrors are not able to be homologated for the U.S. given the current laws at this time,” he said. “Much like Matrix [LED] lighting, we are working with the authorities to make the side view cameras legal at some point in the future.”
The idea of replacing normal mirrors with cameras isn't a new one, but the e-tron will make the idea a production-first application. Audi will mount the cameras to little winglets of sorts and the driver's side feed will be displayed to the left of the instrument panel. Audi, strangely, has not specifically mentioned where the passenger side screen will reside.
Audi e-tron replaces side mirrors with cameras
Audi pointed to aerodynamic efficiencies as the reason to include the technology on the production version of the battery-electric crossover. Specifically, the cameras improve drag. Audi noted that every .01 added to the coefficient of drag reduces range by about 5 kilometers or about 3 miles, which makes the cameras an important addition to achieve the electric crossover's estimated 248-mile range.
While the U.S. will miss out on the tech, the rules may change sooner than most expect. Automotive News (subscription required) reported in 2016 that the U.S. could adopt a United Nations resolution to allow the technology to replace traditional mirrors.
Audi engineers took additional steps to create a slippery shape for the e-tron. Other measures include active grille shutters, adaptive air suspension to raise and lower the vehicle as needed, and tires that feature etched information, rather than raised lettering and numbers.
The e-tron will be revealed on August 30 and will reach local showrooms in 2019.
(Editor's note: The article has been updated to include Audi's comments about the technology's availability in the U.S.)