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IAA 2017-Frankfurt Show
Tuesday, 17 October 2017

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This, DVN's 119th report, is a close look at the new and notable lights and driver-assist features at the 2017 IAA Frankfurt motor show, to the near-total exclusion of other parts and views of the vehicle. Every model covered here can readily be viewed in its entirety elsewhere, but this is the only comprehensive report on the lights and automations. As such, it is not an every-model catalogue; only those vehicles with noteworthy vision and visibility features are covered. This year we present 172 clear, colourful, sharp images at the perfect size whether you're viewing on a computer screen, a tablet, or you choose to print it out and carry it with you. Where warranted, we provide multiple views of the same lamp from different angles—annotated and described with text. The report is arranged alphabetically by marque, whether the brand applies to a car maker or a technology supplier.

Here are the five main takeaway points we retain from the show:

  • As discussed in the recently published DVN Study (The Impact of a Changing Automotive Industry on Exterior Lighting) three trends are transforming the automotive world: electrification, connectivity, and advanced assisted driving. They require new sytems architectures, skills, and competencies. Tier 1 suppliers like Delphi, Bosch, Continental, ZF, Valeo, Denso, and Magna brought extensive show-and-tell on the subject to the show.
  • Lighting functions are strongly influenced by these trends as can be seen in presentations by Hella, Valeo, and ZKW: high definition LED projection lights on the road to warn, inform, bring additional comfort to the driver, completely new interior and exterior lighting to welcome the driver and help them through the different levels of automomous driving, new exterior and interior light designs with the disappearance of the front grill on e-cars and the introduction of large OLED surfaces on the rear faces.
  • Electric cars open a new paradise for designers: city cars, for example, with flat floors, shortened hoods, dashboards reduced to a single screen. From that perspective, SUVs appear like dinosaurs with their large wheels, big engines, and chunky shapes.
  • Korean and Chinese car maker presence is quite remarkable. Hyundai and Kia had their usual large booths, but Chery and Wey (Great Wall's brand) put forth an unusually strong Chinese showing. In contrast, the absence of Fiat, Peugeot, Rolls-Royce, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Volvo and Tesla raises eyebrows.
  • Impressive showfloors of Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and VW, amongst many others, demonstrate that progress is happening fast. It is reasonable to predict that all car models will soon offer an electric powered version, whether hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or full electric.

There was an unprecedented level of focus on electric cars at this year's show. There was also a wide array of prototypes and concept cars and a goodly variety of new production models on display. This year more than ever before, major (and some lesser-known) tier-1 suppliers of driving assistance and automation technology were exhibiting their wares and works directly to show attendees. All in all it was a showcase of the general trend toward higher lighting and automatic content on vehicles in general, though it could also be clearly seen that cheap old technology—bulb taillamps and H4 headlamps—continues to persist, including some surprising applications of these power-hungry old techniques on electric vehicles wherein less lighting efficiency means less vehicle range.

The car-lights-as-art revolution has well and truly gone mainstream; it is harder than ever to find a car equipped with form-follows-function lighting. The whole industry, worldwide, is striving at an unprecedented rate to add glitz, fascination, and fashion to what used to be purely functional, minimally-styled equipment. There's never been a wider variety in the use of lighting for the advertisement of brand and model-range identity and vehicle technology. A number of vehicles showed ideas of how to use light in new ways as semi- (and eventually fully-) autonomous cars join in the world's traffic, as car-sharing begins to erode car-ownership, and as electric cars come (back) into their own as a significant force after nearly a century's absence.

We hope you find this report as enjoyable and informative to peruse and read as we did to create.