Over the weekend, I stopped by one of my local taillight bars, The Crimson Glare, to grab a Yoo-Hoo-and-gin and catch up with my fellow taillamp fetishists. This time, though, something seemed odd; maybe it was the thick column of acrid smoke billowing from the bar’s rear patio, maybe it was the din of hundreds of ragged, screaming voices, or maybe it was the Range Rover on fire. Who knows? Could have been the new carpet, too, I’m not sure, but something seemed off. I grabbed the arm of a woman I sort of knew from the scene, who was rushing to the burning Range Rover with an armload of gasoline-soaked taillight lenses. I asked her what the hell was going on, and she just said “Range Rover taillight recall! They want to take away amber rear indicators from five of our people!” She ran off, screaming, and I realized I needed to know more.
The Range Rover being burned in effigy – well, maybe not in effigy, since they managed to find a real Range Rover to burn, though it was an old heap from the ’90s that had been parked in the lot behind Crimson Glare for decades– was ablaze because the Ambears, a radical group of pro-amber rear indicator lamp activists, were appalled to find out that Land Rover had issued Recall 23V251000 for 2023 Land Rover Range Rover Sport cars, specifically five cars for the American Market that had European-spec taillights.
Here’s the official recall consequence and summary [Editor’s Note: Though this may seem to be entirely fiction, the absurd recall is actually real news! -DT]:
Taillights and brake lights that do not illuminate correctly can reduce vehicle visibility or cause confusion for other drivers, increasing the risk of a crash.
Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC (Land Rover) is recalling certain 2023 Land Rover Range Rover Sport vehicles. The vehicles are equipped with incorrect rear taillights that do not illuminate correctly. In addition, the brake lights may not illuminate correctly. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 108, ” Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment.”
Mainstream, non-taillight subculture media reporting has tended to peg the fact that the turn indicators will flash amber instead of red as the reason for the recall, but this is not the true cause, if one digs just a little bit, and stating this as the cause is incredibly offensive to the pro-amber-rear-indicator community, which is why the Ambears were rioting and burning Range Rovers at the bar, and possibly similar things were happening at taillight bars near you.
The truth is that amber rear indicators are not just perfectly legal here in America, but tests and research from our very own NHTSA have determined that amber rear indicators, instead of just red flashing ones, are safer and less prone to confusion, as they cannot be mistaken for brake or tail lamps, among other things.
… and here’s a GIF of the lights in action:
No, the amber color is just a scapegoat here; the real problem is one of size. That’s because FMVSS S22.214.171.124 states:
On a motor vehicle whose overall width is less than 80 inches:(a) The effective projected luminous lens area of a single compartment stop lamp, and a single compartment rear turn signal lamp, shall be not less than 50 square centimeters (7 3/4 square inches).
I think this is the problem here. For all markets other than our taillight-backwards-asses in America, 2023 Range Rover Sport has amber rear indicators that don’t just blink, but animate sequentially and amberly, in this very appealing and I think eye-catching manner:
That’s cool, right? That’s the sort of turn indication experience I’d expect – no, demand – if I just dropped over 100 grand on a big fancy-ass SUV, like these tend to be.
For the U.S .market, though, the indicators have been dumbed-down to an extraordinary degree. Look at this shit:
So, the whole damn thing just flashes, in the exact same way that, say, a Dodge Neon would have done it in 1995 or how those $20 auto parts store box taillights have been doing it since 1968 or so. I’d argue these all-red rear indicators are more confusing than the sequential amber ones, which cannot be mistaken for any other taillight function.
They also don’t look as cool, and if you think that’s unimportant, you’re wrong, very wrong, as even Land Rover themselves are so excited about their new taillight design overall that they’ve made it a talking point in dealer videos:
Taillight design is a big deal now more than ever, since EVs tend to drive more similarly to one another than gas cars; design is an important distinguisher! And, I know many designers have actually preferred the American idiosyncratic red rear indicators because it allows for a cleaner, less complex rear light graphic, because many designers are hard-ass minimalistic snobs who can’t deal with an extra color being introduced into their exquisitely distilled-down design.
Well, that argument is bullshit today, because as you saw in the video clip of the Euro indicator, you can’t even see the amber until it illuminates!
This is all just absurd. Why didn’t Range Rover’s designers just make the amber rear indicator area just a tiny bit bigger to meet the 50 centimeter/ 7.75 inch US area requirement, and just have one global taillight? Wouldn’t that be cheaper? Easier? Better for everyone? The US lights feel like a half-ass afterthought, just brute-forcing it by blinking the whole damn thing.
I can’t legally suggest this, but if the five 2023 Range Rover Sport owners were to refuse to deliberately downgrade their taillights because of what Big Red Rear Indicator tells them they have to do, then I would say many Ambears in the taillight community would see them as heroes, undertaking an act of civil disobedience on par with heroes of other movements, but, you know, about taillights.
When I’m Emperor of America, one of my first acts will be that any carmaker to pull this sort of anti-amber-rear-indicator bullshit will be forced to install these school bus turn indicators on all their vehicles:
Either that, or the carmaker’s CEO can spend six months working on one of the mining colonies I’ll be establishing in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Their choice! It’s still America, after all!
Government passes regulations that force automakers to sell EVs, autopian happy.
Government passes regulations that make taillights suck, autopian mad.
You can’t have it both way folks. If you think the government can dictate certain aspects of cars then you can’t complain when you don’t like what they dictate.
Can we actually make an appeal to Congress and the NTHSA to change these asinine, ass-backwards turn signal regulations? They’re severely outdated!! LEDs are so much brighter with less real estate.
One can hope this becomes a big enough news story that makes law makers reconsider the law. One can hope…
Can we appeal to Congress to change these asinine pollution regulations that are forcing EVs down our throat?
Living in the UK I detest the sequential turn signals. Entirely pointless and actually harder to see than full-blink indicators because you don’t have the full amber light illumniated the whole time. Just one more thing to try and sell a car because someone wants to be a bit poncy.
To be honest, most of the time with modern cars rear indicators are entirely pointless because designers don’t actually seem to take in to account the use case – i.e. indicators need to be able to be seen when the brake lights are on or there is glare from the sun. So many cars nowadays have indicators that are impossible to see in either of those situations that it makes a mockery of actually having them.
I kind of agree (Dutch/German market perspective here). These modern small/narrow indicators are frequently less visible than old fashioned bulbs. Despite being brighter. The sequential part does not make it better.
I’m not arguing for the US alternative, far from it. However, I do believe the trend of tiny and narrow indicators is not a good one.
Agreed, particularly on the general uselessness of sequential turn signals. Just a gimmicky, late-sixties thing which somehow made a return to impress punters in the showroom.
I’d rather deal with that than how some automakers are putting the turn signals in the bumpers so they’re harder to see.
When will we ever take the political action to mandate the taillamps with amber turn signal indicators?
If the action group, Kids and Cars, succeed in pushing for the legislature on the rear view cameras and changes to the power window controls, we can push for the mandatory rear amber turn signal indicators.
If the Congress attached the rider to push NHTSA in adopting the rule on adaptive headlamps, we can do the same by asking the senators and representatives to attach the rider to the bills that have high chance of passing in both houses.
United States has dragged its feet for eternity on the World Forum of Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations since 1990s, cherry-picking a few of international standards to be implemented. Various studies have shown that harmonisation would greatly reduce the cost of vehicles and offer more choices.
Imagine owning a Range Rover knowing you can never bring it in to a dealer for warranty service.
In the GWagen community, I call them goldies. The only way to roll your G.
Love a goldie
Someday I want to get another conversion van, and find the kind of specialists needed to install aftermarket, legal, fully redundant, and fully separated rear indicators.
Two separate amber bulbs for each turn signal.
Hazards done as four amber bulbs (two per side) separate even from the turn signals.
Two brake lights on each side, plus high mount.
Four taillight bulbs.
Four reverse lights.
I just want to say I had absolutely nothing to do with any of this.
Actually, lighting design is usually done by a couple of design specialists who do nothing BUT lighting, but when us snobs do our concept renders yes we usually only use red on the taillights.
Doesn’t Audi get around the sequential requirement by having both the standard sequential light and a on/off flashing light in the assembly?
I tried looking for a video but couldn’t find anything.
Exquisite, Jason! 🙂
Saw this story on some German Lighting site yesterday, and was momentarily surprised that Torch hadn’t already written it up. Then I realized that he was probably working on the writing, getting some illustrations ready, and perhaps discussing the article over at the Crimson Glare before posting.
I was not disappointed – well worth the wait and if anyone ever needs to know why this site rocks, read the two articles next to each other.
Almost did a spit-take with my morning coffee. With Yoo-Hoo in my stomach I’m sure the Gin would blossom into something effervescent in a quite unpleasant way. It would be my turn to indicate to the toilet to never accept a drink offered by Torch at the Crimson Glare.
I absolutely love these articles about automobile lighting, especially on how much worse rear red indicators are
yoo-hoo is flat out disgusting.
I hope you weren’t wasting top shelf gin in that abomination of a cocktail.
Yoo-hoo goes better with rum anyhow.
When you become emperor, isn’t a better use of your imperial powers to just sync US backward laws with the Indicator Codex we use in the rest of the world?
Is it actually sequential, or Lucas Electric’s flickering because of bad contacts?