One bold design trend stood out to me at the 2018 LA Auto Show: full-width taillights, stretched across the butts of cars and trucks everywhere I looked. But this is not a new concept for this year. In fact, connected taillights, AKA “heckblende,” have been a thing for a hot minute.
As Jason Torchinsky expounded on earlier this year, heckblende is a German word for describing a reflective piece of plastic sometimes mounted between two taillights to make them look like a single connected entity. I reckon we can use it in cases where the entire thing actually lights up, too.
The Rivian RT1 electric pickup truck prototype, which debuted last week, is probably the most unmistakable example of what I’m talking about. The backend is pretty much just curved cold metal and a giant red strip searing the corneas of anyone who dare tailgate this truck.
The 2020 Porsche 911 is similarly endowed with what you might call “connected taillights.” And look at the Kia Stinger, Audi A7, Toyota Prius Prime, Honda Civic, Range Rover Velar, Lincoln Aviator, Mitsubishi Eclipse SportCross...
Wait, sorry, not the Mitsubishi Eclipse SportCross. Never look at the Mitsubishi Eclipse SportCross. I mean, yes, it does support my thesis, but I don’t want any of you to have nightmares tonight.
Huge, end-to-end taillights have been popular before. The 1970 Dodge Charger famously had super fat rear lights, and the design element was pretty common to see in the 1980s as well. That era’s Porsche 911 and Honda Civic come to mind. Both of those cars pull this look off by connecting two smaller taillights with the big red piece of plastic. Actually, that’s what a lot of the examples I linked to above do today.
After seeing pretty much every new production car in one place at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show last week, I’m convinced that heckblende taillights are officially hot right now and I think we can expect to see them on at least a few more models as we go through the next round of refreshes.
Some cursory research seems to indicate that we can trace this current cycle of the trend, at least partially, to Dodge. By adopting the ultra-wide taillight look to the Charger sedan, Durango SUV and plucky Dart economy car, road-going Americans got comfortable with connected taillights again and apparently over the same period of time, automotive designers have become smitten with it.
Heckblende taillights are A Thing now, and if you haven’t already noticed, I bet you’ll see red cyclopses all over the place on your drive home from work tonight.