Rear-View Mirror Cams
Another video screen that regulators don't like is one that shows the image that we'd normally see in the rear-view mirrors. So while Audi likes to introduce into its production cars technology used on its famous Le Mans–winning race cars whenever possible, don't expect to see the bright, organic LED display showing the view behind you to pop up on your next S5 or R8. Video screens that show moving images while the car is moving forward aren't allowed.
Remote-Mount Magnetic Camera
Land Rover used to offer a nifty magnetic-mount video camera that streamed live images to the dash display. Off-roaders could stick the camera to any steel surface on or underneath the Land Rover, providing an electronic spotter for off-road trail obstacles that can't be seen from the driver's seat. This, too, is forbidden on U.S. roads.
Sometimes, the regulations change but the products don't. Porsche has traditionally offered optional lightweight seats in other markets that let fanatical owners shave weight. But the carmaker dropped the sport bucket seats for the 911 in 2011 because the seats couldn't meet more stringent crash safety requirements. The issue persists today, not just with the 911, but other high-end sports cars like the AMG models from Mercedes-Benz—many of which offer a lightweight seat in Europe but not on our side of the pond.
On an aspherical mirror, the main part of the mirror surface is flat, but it curves away toward the outer edge to show all the space in your blind spot. These helpful features remain illegal here because of bureaucratic foot-dragging in Washington. A 2007 law required the Department of Transportation to revise the federal vehicle code to require a larger field of view in the mirror by the end of 2012, but that new rule—which could permit aspherical mirrors—still hasn't arrived. For now, we're still stuck with flat driver's-side mirrors.
To be fair, we do get some things here that other countries don't get. One of them is the winter-weather godsend of remote start. General Motors and Chrysler are particular proponents of factory-installed remote start, but they don't offer the feature in other countries. Why not? Bureaucrats are the same everywhere, and a feature that Batman would have on his car just seems too, well, excessive to them.
So, while we can warm and de-ice our cars from the comfort of our breakfast table, our European friends get to freeze their fingers scraping ice and gripping a cold steering wheel. There, laws in some countries prohibit idling an empty car in a bid to minimize carbon dioxide emissions.
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