The pandemic has created a time and space appropriate for pondering broader themes than there’s usually time for, so this report aims to provide the reader with a well-rounded grasp of the many points contributing to the American market’s uniqueness, on both the positive and negative sides of the ledger.
An assortment of factors make the North American vehicle lighting market the world’s most unusual among developed countries. The international-consensus U.N. Regulations are not recognised, which has numerous knock-on, ripple, and feedback effects: it means a a different mix of differently-configured vehicles, a different regulatory philosophy, different ways of thinking about the subject of vehicle lighting. To be sure, this particular variety of American exceptionalism—to which Canada is more or less handcuffed, by dint of geographic proximity and relative market size—creates friction, difficulties, and costs.
But it also gives rise to opportunities, strengths, and talents that would likely have a harder time thriving if the American markets weren’t dancing to its own rhythm. Standardisation and modularisation, for example, which are hot topics in today’s global vehicle lighting world, have a long history in America. The regulatory system invites not just frustration (though there is plenty of that) but also creative thought. The mix of benefits and drawbacks, constraints and opportunities created by the topography of the American vehicle lighting market is intricate and complex.
American human-factors study of driver vision and vehicle lighting is prodigious and consistently excellent; two of the world’s foremost research institutes in the field are in the United States. American efforts in headlight performance rating are paying off in ways that raise interesting questions about the effectiveness of regulation versus market-based incentives for lighting improvement.
A North American company is a world-renowned tooler, maker, and supplier of retro-reflectors and other precision optics for vehicles all over the world. A company set amidst fields in the American Midwest makes magic with LEDs for cars, trucks, motorcycles, off-road vehicles, and spacecraft. A company headquartered in California recently added three big new factories in the United States to their existing two in Asia. And an American small business run with great dedication and passion for their speciality has come up with an elegant solution to the intractable American ADB logjam.