The End of Foglights (or Fog Lamps) Is Here

Yes, that symbol of 1950s sports car motoring and beloved accessories of the JC Whitney crowd is almost gone. It will soon be relegated to the dustbin of history. Joining eight-track tape players and curb feelers, the foglight, or fog lamp, depending on your bent, will be its newest addition. Though they’re not the same as driving lights, they’re, still required by law. But the foglight accessory is an unnecessary auto appendage in 2022. 

Why are foglights dead?

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The wind blows snow decreasing visibility | Group/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty

That’s because, with the advent of superior lighting technology, they’re unnecessary. Ford’s European design director Amko Leenharts told Ford Authority, the “bending lights” in LED technology deem them obsolete. “In most of our European products, they’re gone. If you have the bending lights, then you don’t need the fog lights.” 

What bending lights refer to is the technology that adjusts headlight direction based on the car’s steering angle and speed. This technology exposes more of the road, eliminating the need for accessory lighting. We’re seeing it now in premium and luxury vehicles.

Infrared night-vision systems available on some high-end Audi BMW Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz models, cut through fog. They can detect heat, and then display the images on the dash screen. There are also radar and lidar technology that is being used on many new cars.

Are OEM foglights still an accessory?

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Foggy afternoon in France | Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty

If you look at the upcoming Mustang and refreshed Lincoln Corsair, no foglights are evident. And, of course, with LEDs comes improved visibility with a big reduction in energy usage. This was triggered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s adaptive driving beam, or ADB, headlight approval. It allows drivers to switch to the high beam setting without blinding oncoming traffic. 

However, many automakers have been using a form of ADB for years. Shutters inside of LED headlights are adjusted by driver input. Since high beam light is always on, the shutters block part of the beam and direct it down for normal driving conditions. Those shutters drop down when the high beams switch on. This allows for the full amount of light to come through. 

But the high beam light itself is stationary. What separates it from ADB lighting is adapting to the driver’s line of sight. But some foglight enthusiasts don’t care about functionality.

What about those that like foglamp aesthetics?

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Cars ride along a road amid heavy fog | Gokhan Balci/Anadolu Agency via Getty
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They love the look of foglights. And for that reason, we may not see the end of them. But they’ll probably be part of the running lights and not function as foglights. Many prefer the cleaner look of not having the accessory lighting.

Those types of enthusiasts like to pare down the car’s design to its simplest elements. With fewer components bonked onto the body, the better. Hey, variety is the spice of life, so whatever floats your boat.

So foglights won’t be for function, and from a clean design perspective. Especially, as we transition further into electrification. With technology improving, even staples like AM radio will soon face the same fate.