ISEHARA, Japan -- Go to any auto show and there will likely be a futuristic concept car that has ditched its rearview or sideview mirrors.
Designers may have substituted unobtrusive camera lenses that barely bud from the sheet metal.
Mirrorless cars -- or vehicles that drop old-school glass mirrors in favor of video screens -- have been proposed for years by stylists and engineers wanting sleeker looks as well as improved safety and fuel efficiency.
Last month, the proposals came closer to reality in Japan, which became one of the first markets allowing vehicles to use cameras instead of mirrors. The promise of mirrorless cars is sparking a rush of suppliers to the technology, including such entrants as Japan's Ichikoh Industries and Germany's Robert Bosch GmbH.
Japan's first-mover status could give Japanese companies a head start in tapping the trend.
Ichikoh, known mainly as a supplier of lighting and mirrors, sees big opportunities in mirrorless cars and is manufacturing its first product.
"Our job is to improve the visibility of the drive, with lighting and mirrors, but now also with cameras," Ichikoh CEO Ali Ordoobadi said in an interview at the company's world headquarters here south of Tokyo.
"There is a switch of technology, a kind of rupture," he said. "It's a really new segment with higher content, and that means higher revenue opportunities. This is the trend, and we have to be in front of the others."