The outfit’s test protocol and facility were designed by Guide, shortly before that firm succumbed to the twin blows of outdated technology and product performance and the resultant bankruptcy. The test protocol naturally favours headlamps that perform according to Guide’s design philosophies, which raises an uncomfortable paradox: Guide failed because their lamps’ performance lagged behind the state of the art, but consumers now demand headlamps that get good grades from the tests, so the industry’s remaining lamp makers, many of whom have world-class R&D departments, are effectively forced to design lamps that do a good job of passing the test — which may not be the same as lamps designed to do a good job of illuminating the road.
All car lights are either legal or illegal, with no particular legal kudos for an automaker supplying lights better than the minimum legal performance allowed by the applicable technical regulations. But rising emphasis on active safety and crash avoidance are spurring the expansion of vehicle safety tests and rankings by non-governmental consumer organisations. North America’s most prominent consumer reporting organisation recently began assessing the headlamps of vehicles they test.