The Popularity of Large Windshields Grows in U.S.


While you’ll see large windshields more commonly on buses overseas, the U.S. is paying attention. This is particularly true for RV companies.

Large panoramic windshields feature one, large expansive piece of glass. You will usually spot these on RVs and sometimes on buses in the U.S. In the past, the windshields on these large vehicles would have been composed of two big pieces of glass, with a channel going down the center that held the glass place. This center line is slowly but surely disappearing.

Large, luxury RVs tend to have this panoramic feature.

“RV manufacturers and owners appreciate the uninterrupted, panoramic views that come from a large one-piece windshield,” says Matt Eder, marketing manager for Guardian Custom Glass Solutions. “For this reason, RV manufacturers switched from two-piece windshields to using one-piece windshield exclusively in 2005/2006.”

Guardian Custom Glass Solutions of Ohio makes these large windshields.

Another manufacturer, Coach Glass, introduced one-piece windshields to the RV industry in 1999.

“It has steadily caught on across the board,” says Carol Taylor Clay, a spokesperson for the company.

The benefit to this large glass is panoramic vision. The downside is that these windshields tend to cost more to replace when damaged.

panoramic-windshield

Windshields come in all shapes and sizes, but one trend is clear.
The wave of the future is larger windshields and more glass.

Crossing Over into Cars

And this trend toward larger windshields is working itself into cars as well.

Let’s look at the Tesla Model X. A feature of the vehicle that immediately stands out is its panoramic windshield. Though the exact dimensions have not been released, it extends over the driver’s head.

“Something we worked very hard on is that the windshield is panoramic,” said Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO. “It comes up and over and feels like a helicopter cockpit when you are driving. It gives you unbelievable visibility.”

The Model X has the largest all-glass panoramic windshield in production for cars, according to Tesla.

And more automakers and glass manufacturers are following suit. Vehicles ranked for good visibility by Consumer Reports all have one thing in common—large windows.

Strong Visibility

While the Model X may be more futuristic, vehicles ranked for good visibility by Consumer Reports all have one thing in common—large windows.

“The Subaru Forester embraces its earnest and boxy styling. Big windows, a square greenhouse, and thin roof pillars bring outstanding visibility, surrounding you with glass,” according to Consumer Reports.

Reviewing the Range Rover, the company points out that the driver sits high and is surrounded by large vertical windows, giving the sense of a panoramic view.

How about the cars that are on Consumer Reports’ Worst Visibility list?

For the Infiniti QX70, wide roof pillars, short windows, and a long, high, bulging hood interfere with visibility, according to the report.

As for the Jeep Wrangler, a high dashboard and long hood compromise visibility in the front.

Automotive glass manufacturers are taking note of this trend. One such manufacturer, Pilkington, reports that more glass can be seen in popular models from General Motors, Ford and Volkswagen.

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Replacing this Large Glass

So what does this mean for you? With more glass and larger windshields, there is an increased likelihood that you could need a repair or replacement. And given the importance glass plays in the structural integrity of your vehicle, finding a quality repair and replacement company is key to your safety.

If your vehicle or RV has a damaged panoramic windshield and you need to get it replaced, keep in mind the size of the glass could make the work for the technician more complex.

It takes some experience.

For RVs, it can take two, sometimes three technicians to pull out the old glass and put in the new. Some automotive glass companies will have a dock in place to pull the RV up to that helps the technicians more easily access the windshield. A company may even build scaffolding around the RV.

Though these larger windshields are more popular in Europe, those in the U.S. should be aware of their availability and the extra work replacing this glass entails. Especially since more automakers are picking up on this trend.

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