The LED lighting revolution continues, and Volkswagen has some pretty brilliant stuff coming our way both for headlights and taillights. The crux of these new systems is that they can do more than just illuminate the way forward and alert drivers behind; there’s a higher level of communication capability to help both the person behind the wheel and other drivers on the road to navigate safely. We’ll talk more about this in a bit, but right now we have something else burning in our brains – are we actually getting a first look at the backside of VW’s next-generation Golf?

Take a good look at the photo above. We spent a fair amount of time trying to match up this taillight design with VW’s current lineup and we’ve got nothing. There doesn’t seem to be anything in the company’s recent past that matches either, and we doubt an old car would be used for such purposes anyway. The photo gallery at the bottom of the page features a couple Tiguan SUVs and a rendered concept, but none match the light design and visible body lines of the above photo. It doesn’t match any concepts we’ve seen either. In fact, it doesn’t match anything from VW. It does, however, look pretty close to the current Golf and a new model is coming for 2020. Here's a comparison with the Golf GTI TCR Concept.

VW Interactive LED Lights
2018 VW Golf GTI TCR concept

Is this some pretty hefty speculation? Possibly, but it’s not uncommon for automakers to drop teasers in broad daylight, mixed in with regular news. Sure, there could be something we’ve missed, but this could also be a sneak peek at the next Golf –  done intentionally or by mistake.

Whatever the vehicle is, it will wear VW’s next-generation interactive LED headlight and taillights. What does interactive mean? In short, micro-pixel headlights will have up to 30,000 light points and high-output LED beams that light up the darkness but can also project info and designs onto the road itself, such as solid lines to show the exact width of the vehicle, or help outline a curve that could be hard to see.

VW Evolution des Lichts
VW Evolution des Lichts

On the other side, LED taillights can communicate certain situations to other drivers behind the car, such as an approaching traffic jam. The lights can also project lines on the road during parking maneuvers, to let other cars and pedestrians know precisely where the car is going. This would all function in conjunction with autonomous systems and vehicle-to-vehicle / vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, as well as through manual control by the driver.

VW doesn’t say when this might come to production vehicles but development is ongoing at the company’s Wolfsburg plant, where there may also be a next-generation Golf being used for photos.


Gallery: VW Evolution of lights

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Interactive headlights and tail light clusters help to raise the bar for safety in future

Innovative Volkswagen lighting technology is helping to boost safety. At the same time, it is also opening the door to increasingly personalised vehicle design. At an international workshop, Volkswagen is now showcasing how the lighting systems of the future will communicate and increase safety even further.