The automotive market’s evolution has really heated up lately, and there’s a lot going on at the same time: powertrains going to electric, autonomous driving getting closer and closer, and more technology than ever before inside cars. All this has a significant impact on the interior of the vehicle. As Philippe Aumont described it on his DVN-Interior Report on the Automotive Interiors Expo Europe, the most prominently visible trends are in lighting: “Vehicle interior designer-specifiers have long had to work under very tight budget allotment, which historically reduced the offer to one dome light or two and maybe a couple of reading lights. But LED technology has opened new opportunities by dint of versatile lighting capabilities in small packaging at an affordable cost, while the functional role of lighting has evolved beyond just a glorified flashlight to help find things in the dark. Now lighting personalises the interior, presents information, creates ambiance, conveys alerts, and more functions are being added to this list all the time”.
Interior lighting, which was in the past purely functional, has become an important part of the style of the car, and stylists are the drivers to introduce new technologies in sync with fashion and major evolution trends of the society like ecology and veganism. ISELED, dedicated interior lighting controllers; luminous woods, textiles, and leathers; and illuminated panoramic roofs are some of the new technologies enabling these evolutionary trends, as exemplified by the Mercedes EQS concept car shown at the Frankfurt motor show (and on the front page of this report).
As new technologies arise, new suppliers become involved; partnerships are established between existing lighting suppliers and new luminous material suppliers. Customers expect to find in their car interior the same comfort levels they find in their own living room, facilitating cooling, re-energising, and otherwise responding and adapting to the prevailing environment and conditions including the weather and the mood of the vehicle occupants.
Functional evolution is also needed. The first objective of lighting is to let us see what we’re doing, naturally. Depending on automation scenario realisation, occupants want to be able to control the lighting to make the interior of the vehicle a productive office…a living room on wheels…a place for a nap.The vehicle interior is the third living space, joining the home and the office. Now light is shaping the in-car environment, as it has for many years at home and work.
As you will be able to read in the next pages of this report, we are at the beginning of major evolutions on interior lighting.