The new VW Touareg will come up with a very special detail when it is presented: Its VW logo on the rear also lights up red while driving. What was previously forbidden is now suddenly possible. How does it work?
The idea of illuminated logos is not new. You see them occasionally on 40-ton trucks. And Mercedes-Benz also offers some models with an illuminated star on the front. Until now, the emblems were only allowed to shine brightly when stationary. Since January 4, 2023, there has been a changed ECE law that allows illuminated logos while driving. However, only under clearly defined conditions.
The UN-ECE rules R48 and R148 have been changed for this - i.e. the regulations for the approval, installation and operation of position lights. Officially, the radiant symbols are considered position lights. Even if these rules were decided by the United Nations Economic Commission in New York, they are only valid in the European Union. In the USA and China other, less strict regulations apply to lighting.
Sizing exactly prescribed
The rules for Europe now include very clear framework conditions. First, there is the size of the logos. They may be a maximum of 100 cm2 in front and back, "determined by the area enclosed by the outer luminous edge of the logo." In the case of round logos, such as that of VW, this would correspond to a diameter of around ten centimetres. That would be a bit small in the large radiator of the facelifted Touareg. Therefore, only the VW emblem lights up on the rear.
The set of rules also includes a passage in which the distance to the nearest illuminated area is defined. According to UN-ECE R148, this may be a maximum of 75 millimeters. In the future, you can look forward to more and more light strips that lead to a central company logo between the headlights. On the new Touareg, the rear lights are connected via an LED light strip to let the VW emblem shine red in the middle. The prerequisite is the IQ Light option package, which includes the HD triple matrix headlights.
Position light must be symmetrical
The shape of the position light is also described in UN-ECE regulations R48 and R148. It has to be symmetrical. For most German manufacturers such as VW, BMW or Mercedes-Benz, this even applies to their logo. And the rules also state this: It must be the currently registered company trademark.
Illuminated model names, anniversary logos or traditional lettering are not permitted. And there can be a maximum of two logos per vehicle – for example one on the front and one on the rear. Theoretically, two illuminated symbols at the rear or two at the front would also be conceivable. It all depends on the symmetry of the positioning and in the sign itself.
Retrofitting hardly possible
One thing right away: Retrofitting sparkling logos will not work. Because according to the UN-ECE regulations R48 and R148, which were changed in January, everything that emits light while driving is registered as a system-dependent lamp. In short: headlights, taillights and position lights are specified as vehicle lighting in the type approval of a vehicle and cannot simply be changed.
It will be just as difficult for manufacturers to integrate the technology into existing models. And in addition to the installation, the control must also be implemented in the vehicle's software. In addition, an illuminated logo requires a certain amount of space. Due to cooling, control and light distribution, it builds up a few centimeters and also needs a clear demarcation from adjacent parts.
The adaptation of the UN-ECE regulations R148 and R48 will in future allow car manufacturers in Europe to let their logos light up while driving. However, there are very clear and strict rules for design, size and overall appearance. The first model with this technology will be the facelifted VW Touareg.