Recently, I’ve written an awful lot about the lighting design coming out of the combined Hyundai-Kia automobile-producing concern, and the reason is simple: the lighting designers working for the Korean automaker are fucking bringing it. A fantastic example of this can be seen in the just-unveiled 2023 Genesis G90 sedan’s turn indicator repeaters.
I brought this up at my weekly Blinkie meeting, the colloquial name for turn-indicator enthusiasts, at my local turn signal enthusiast bar, Flashy Amber’s. One member of the group insisted that they didn’t feel turn signal repeaters qualified as proper indicators, which is bullshit gatekeeping for which I will not stand, so I smacked is drink from his hand to the ground and had him escorted out of the premises.
In case anyone out there is somehow unfamiliar with what an indicator repeater is, let me take a moment to refresh you. Essentially, these are an extra set of amber lamps that blink along with the turn signals, but are set on the side of the car, generally between the trailing edge of the front wheel arch and the front door.
Most modern cars include them on their side mirrors, but many cars have them on the front fenders. They’ve been a requirement in Europe, Japan, the UK and most of the world since around 1986, but have never been required in America, though there is nothing that forbids them, either.
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If they’re not on the mirrors, most automakers have just kind of stuck them on wherever, though there have been some wonderful and notable designs over the years.
What I love about how Hyundai-Kia’s lighting design team is approaching their work is that they see each required bit of lighting hardware not as some burden that has to be filled, but as a design opportunity to be savored, and that’s exactly what has happened here.
We first saw the new G90's indicator repeater concept on Genesis’ X Coupé concept earlier this year, though as a concept, free from the constraints of reality and mass production, we saw the design taken even further, with the dual light bands extending to the very edge of the wheel arch and body cutlines:
Even with the grim realities of the real world, Genesis designers managed to get pretty damn close to that indicator repeater vision:
What I love is how the twin bands of lighting, from the headlights to the indicators to the side markers to the repeaters are all treated visually as a pair of contiguous bands wrapping around the car.
I think that look evokes Art Deco-ish design language like what was seen on the wraparound grille of the Cord 812, a car that used a much different design vocabulary, but had similar goals of creating something with a clean, sleek, and significant presence.
Just for shits and, where applicable, giggles, let’s compare the new G90 to another long-wheelbase flagship rich-people-in-back sedan, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz Maybach:
The proportions of both cars are similar, both have a significant sort of presence that makes you feel like you’ll get your house foreclosed upon if you get fingerprints on the paint, but I think compared to the G90, the Maybach looks, well, dowdy, and I think it all comes down to the G90's more daring lighting design.
It feels like Benz did what they’ve been doing already, just on a fancier car, while the Genesis feels like it’s actually trying something exciting and new.
Indictator repeaters have been relegated to mirrors and forgotten about for too long, so I’m delighted to see this development.
Pay attention, other carmakers. The flashing amber bar has been set pretty high.