Everyone Wants a Knock-Off Audi

So I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’m one of the only people that have noticed this. Sure, I’m a sucker for German cars. The one I drive now commands more of my time and money than I’d like to admit; not exactly ideal for a college student that’s about to start paying back loans. But that’s neither here nor there.

OK, so what is it that I’ve noticed? To be blunt, car manufacturers from Detroit to Tokyo are blatantly copying the design of Audi’s. Now, I didn’t just jump to this conclusion based on the contours of new body styles of Honda Accords and Chrysler 200’s. Cars are cars, and 4-door sedans can’t possibly vary THAT much between manufacturers. However, there is on feature Audi incorporates into it’s design that other companies just have to integrate into their own vehicles: the daytime running lights (DRLs).

Yeah, I know, most people have no idea what those are, but look at this picture of a 2006 Audi A8:


Those strips of LED lights on the bottom of the headlight are the DRLs. Audi was the first company to introduce this technology/design on a mass produced vehicle way back in 2006. One could easily argue that this was a revolutionary design for a car. It gives the car a very futuristic and aggressive looking grill. But more importantly, It gave Audi a very powerful brand. I remember when Audi first introduced this design. When you saw those LED strips coming towards you, day or night, you knew that was a brand new Audi. For many years, the comapany was the only one to use this DRL design on their cars. BMW, another German luxury car manufacturer, began to install DRLs on their cars, but they opted to alter the LED strip design of Audi in favor of updating their decades-old tradition of  the “Angel-eyes” headlights. Here is a picture of factory DRLs on a 2007 BMW 530xi:


Fast forward now to 2014. Audi has emerged as one of the world’s fastest growing luxury brands. It is even gaining on industry stalwarts BMW and Mercedes. The rennasaince of the Audi brand over the last 20 years or so is a testament to both the company’s engineers and marketing team. I think many people will remember Audi’s Super Bowl advertisement a few years back that featured an old tow tuck driver reminiscent of the character Captain Ahab from the book “Moby Dick.” The driver comically complains about how he’s “hooked” or towed every kind car out of the snow except for an Audi. Almost all of Audi’s commercials today feature a revving engine and the Daytime Running Lights turning on at one point. The DRLs are still as important to Audi’s brand as the were when they were first introduced 8 years ago. If you want proof of this, just look at some of the late model cars being made in the United States and Japan. Take a lot at these cars, the first is a 2013 Honda Accord and the second is a 2015 Chrysler 200:


The similarities to the Audi cannot be denied. The German company’s competitors across the globe have recognized consumers’ admiration of the daytime running light design and are incorporating them into their own designs. The LED strip under the highlights has become synonymous to Audi’s just as the angel-eye headlights and kidney grill are to BMW and the legendary tri-point logo is to Mercedes-Benz. If you are the president of Audi, there is really nothing more you can ask from your marketing and engineering team.

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