The headlight could be about to be switched off for good.
That’s the view of one of the leading car designers in the world, who believes autonomous cars will spell the end to headlights as we know them.
Luc Donckerwolke is currently head of design for Hyundai’s owned Genesis but has previously worked for Skoda, Audi, Lamborghini and Bentley. His latest creation is the Genesis GV80 Concept that debuted at the 2017 New York motor show.
One of the GV80’s most striking features are its four thin headlights, which will be the new look for all future models for the brand. But Donckerwolke was keen to stress the new lights should not be seen as the ‘eyes’ of the car because the way they will change as autonomous technology becomes more prevalent.
“They are not eyes because they will evolve,” Donckerwolke told Australian media.
“We are in the phase of changing where the lights are technological elements that have a function. That function will certainly disappear in the future because when you have an autonomous car you don’t need lights anymore. What will happen is you will have scanners, lasers, radar but you won’t need any lights anymore. Apart from the, let’s say, decoration you want to show for identity. This is the first step we go into this direction.”
Donckerwolke was quick to dismiss any suggestions that reducing the size of the lights, and taking away the concept of them being ‘eyes’ as they are seen by many, would mean drivers become less accepting of the styling.
“Look at one of the best cars in the history or car design, the Bugatti Royale which didn’t have lights and was one of the most fascinating Bugattis,” explained the Belgian. “So I don’t believe not having the typical lights as eye will be a drawback. To the contrary I believe we have to get of this typical repetition of orchestrating the same design elements in the future.”
Genesis may be a new luxury brand but its global boss Manfred Fitzgerald is confident that its ties to Hyundai put it in a strong position to rapidly adopt autonomous technology to match its more established luxury rivals.
“We’re pretty fortunate having a big mother company like the Hyundai Motor Corporation that has great experience and are investing a lot of money into autonomous driving, so we can tap into those resources anytime,” Fitzgerald said.
“I think autonomous driving has its place for each and every brand but it remains to be seen where and when we’ll implement it.”
He added: “It’s not a priority. For me the priority is establishing the brand.