Back Up! Rear-view Cameras Mandated on New Light Vehicles in US & Canada

Back Up! Rear-view Cameras Mandated on New Light Vehicles in US & Canada

In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a mandate requiring all new light vehicles to have “rear-view visibility systems” with cameras that show a 10-foot-by-20-foot zone behind the vehicle, beginning with the 2018 model year.

Transport Canada issued a similar announcement last year, mandating rear-view camera systems on new cars and small trucks sold in the country beginning in May 2018.

Installation of these systems, which are often integrated into in-dash infotainment displays, is intended to reduce back-up collisions and back-over accidents, as an estimated 210 people die and 15,000 are injured in the US annually in light-vehicle backup incidents.

Backup Cameras: A Quick History

The 1991 Toyota Soarer Limited in Japan was the first production automobile to incorporate a backup camera; in the US, rearview visibility systems first became available as OEM equipment in North America on Nissan’s Infiniti Q45 in 2001.  Since being introduced on luxury vehicles, backup visibility systems have begun to penetrate the non-luxury light vehicle market as OEM equipment.  In addition, aftermarket options have been available for the past 10 years.  The new regulations complete an evolution that has taken backup cameras from pricey extravagance to industry standard.

A Boost to OEM Sales

To that end, the mandates will provide an additional boost to an ongoing trend in North America: between 2008 and 2011 alone, OEM installations of backup cameras in the US more than doubled, increasing from 32% to 68% of all new cars sold.  However, the prevalence of OEM installations will severely restrain first-time aftermarket installations of these units on vehicles currently in use, as some consumers will choose to save up for a new, backup camera-equipped light vehicle rather than investing in a first-time aftermarket installation, which may be difficult to integrate into the vehicle’s existing wiring and trim.

ADAS Electronics

The mandated inclusion of backup cameras is part of a larger industrywide trend toward the increased incorporation of electronics in an effort to improve driver, passenger, and pedestrian safety. Collectively known as advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), these features include but are not limited to blind-spot alert, front and rear object detection, collision warning, lane-keep assist, forward-collision alert, brake assist, and automatic parking. Various sensor technologies – including cameras, lidar, and radar – are employed in ADAS and other advanced automotive systems.  While backup cameras and ADAS can't fully eliminate human error, the long-term hope is that these measures will begin to curb the rising rate of traffic accidents -- particularly in the US, where the overall car crash death rate is one of the highest in the world among wealthy countries.

To find out more

Need more information?  For historical demand data and forecasts by product, performer, and country, see The Freedonia Group’s series of studies on the automotive aftermarket, which includes:

These studies also cover market environment factors, industry structure, company market share, and leading companies.

About the Author:

E. Reta Sober is an industry analyst at The Freedonia Group where she writes studies related to electrical equipment, machinery, and the automotive industry.