Tesla’s Dynamic Brake Lights in the U.S. Could Spawn Greater Adoption


DETROIT, Mich.–Tesla may be having difficulty building glitch-free cars in its tented assembly line in California, or even getting cars to customers in a timely fashion, but there is no question that it is establishing itself as a tech leader among car makers.

And not just for its electric powertrain. One of the updates Tesla has added to its vehicles is Dynamic Brake Lights, which do more than a standard brake light to alert a driver traveling behind the Tesla if the driver of the EV is braking suddenly at speeds above 31 mph. The lights flash several times instead of staying on constantly.

Teslarati first reported the update and obtained engineering notes from Tesla:

If you are driving over 50 km/h and brake forcefully, the brake lights will now flash quickly to warn other drivers that your car is rapidly slowing down,” reads the description for Tesla’s Dynamic Brake Lights feature. In addition to flashing the tail lights in situations that call for unexpected heavy braking, the vehicle will also flash its hazard lights. If your car stops completely, the hazard warning lights will flash until you press the accelerator or manually press the hazard warning lights button to turn them off.

Most car companies would issue such a change in a press release, or when the cars are launched for a new model year. But Tesla makes many of its updates via over-the-air software updates and informs owners by text or email.

Other carmakers are not equipped to make such updates via over-the-air updates except for those made to the telematics and infotainment systems. It takes a trip to the dealer.

The advent of Dynamic Brake Lights comes at a time when vehicles are adding Automatic Emergency Brake Systems, which are designed to better help drivers avoid accidents by acting independently of the driver’s foot.

Dynamic Brake Lighting is not a new concept. European OEMs have had it on numerous vehicles for years. Indeed, BMW pioneered the feature in cars and has added it to its motorcycle range. The feature can also be retrofitted. Rizoma, for example, is one manufacturer that makes it available as an add-on that is installed in the rear-brake-light harness.

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David Kiley is Chief of Content for The BRAKE Report. Kiley is an award-winning business journalist and author, having covered the auto industry for USA Today, Businessweek, AOL/Huffington Post, as well as written articles for Automobile and Popular Mechanics.