Rearviews in the Rearview

Elon Musk wants you to pay more for your next new car – even if you don’t buy one of his cars.

The CEO of Tesla is “petitioning” the government to allow him – and everyone else – to eliminate rearview and exterior mirrors from new cars – in favor of in-car displays fed images by cameras. He says this will result in better aerodynamics and so, improved efficiency.

He doesn’t say what it will cost.

And not just Tesla buyers.

If this “petition” is successful, the rest of the industry will ape Elon – for the same reason you can’t find a new car without an LCD touchscreen or with a physical key for the ignition and door locks.

Elon is a media (and mandate) manufactured trend-setter. He is presented as “hip” and “with it.” The rest of the industry will not want to appear doughty and fuddy-duddy. Amazon.com Gift Card i... Buy New $15.00 (as of 05:10 EST - Details)

Besides which, there’s money in it. For Elon and them, too. Both up front – at purchase time – as well as down the line, when the time inevitably comes to replace a no-longer-functioning component which is also a mandatory saaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety component.

Nothing like a mandated “market” – something Elon specializes in.

But how much will this cost us?

First, let’s consider what we had, what we have – and what is on deck.

For decades, we had a purely mechanical rearview mirror consisting of a housing – usually metal or plastic – and a small piece of mirror. A $15 item – maybe – that did its just perfectly well and usually lasted the life of the car. My almost 50-year-old Trans-Am has its original rearview mirror – and it works as well today as it did back in the summer of ’75, when my car rolled off the line.

Outside rearview mirrors were more or less the same. A housing – metal or plastic – plus the small piece of mirror. Even when the first power-actuated mechanisms came online, they were still relatively simple and so relatively inexpensive.

What Elon wants won’t be.

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