Ficosa and Panasonic to co-develop combined mirror/transponder for European auto maker


A Spanish and a Japanese multinational have announced a new partnership that will provide a major European manufacturer with a rearview mirror that allows the automatic payment of motorway tolls.

Spanish company Ficosa (a top-tier global provider devoted to the research, development, manufacturing and marketing of high-technology vision, safety, connectivity and efficiency systems for the automotive and mobility sectors) and Japan’s Panasonic have signed the first contract of a co-developed product. Both companies will produce an interior rearview mirror for a major European manufacturer (OEM), which will incorporate an electronic toll function that allows the automatic payment of motorway tolls without having to stop the vehicle. The project, which will last for seven years, is valued at €50m (US$55m) and the transponder/mirrors will be produced at Ficosa’s plant in Viladecavalls, near Barcelona in Spain.

Intended for the Japanese market, the new rearview mirror will allow the driver to manage the payment of highway tolls through the  integration of an electronic toll transponder system with a credit card reader. The mirror has a slot to insert the credit card and incorporates a small screen at the top that reports the amount to be paid. For the project, Panasonic has developed the credit card reading module, while Ficosa has been in charge of the electronic management of the entire system, of all the structural and aesthetic components, and the development of a lighting component incorporated in the rearview mirror.

Mercedes Pujol, director of Ficosa’s rearview mirror systems business unit, explained, “This additional functionality goes beyond the simple payment, as the mirror communicates with the toll station, and is able to transmit this information to the navigation system of the vehicle, complementing the vehicle-infrastructure (V2I) communication.”

Javier Pujol, Ficosa’s CEO, noted, “We are very pleased, because during the first year of our agreement with Panasonic, besides presenting co-developed products, we have also managed to win our first joint contract. This project is a clear example of the great potential offered by this alliance, giving us the necessary critical mass to position ourselves at the forefront of the transformation that the automotive industry is currently experiencing.”

This is not the first co-developed product that integrates technologies from Ficosa and Panasonic. In April this year, the companies launched an intelligent rearview mirror system (IRMS), which has an integrated display in the structure of the unit that works both as a mirror or as a monitor that relays images from the high resolution camera located at the rear of the vehicle, according to the driver’s needs. The system includes a Panasonic LCD screen located in the traditional structure of the interior mirror, and the IRMS is notable for its ability to work split screen, as a mirror and monitor simultaneously. The unit will also allow the inclusion of ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) in this vision system, giving the driver information about surrounding vehicles.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).