Before starting the drive, I had a long talk with him.
I met Uwe the first time in 2004 in a Valeo private flight from France to Spain for a meeting at Martos. He was starting in lighting but had already some knowledge. I discovered at Sindelfingen 6 years later a different manager who had a clear strategy and vision of the future of lighting, knowing very well his competitors and the strengths and weaknesses of his suppliers.
When questionned about his careful and cautious judgment, his answer was immediate: “I like to present what we have achieved with our team, and not what we will possibly do”.
About what was achieved by Mercedes on LEDs, he explains the good team job done in a close relation with AL and Philips on the CLS. The Mercedes-Benz philosophy “the best or nothing” means in lighting technology: constantly building on past achievements and only introducing innovations if they bring tangible benefits for the customers. And anybody who has a drive in a CLS with LED headlamps can realise what this philosophy means.
But Uwe Kostanzer is aware of the big 3 challenges still to be won:
- Lower complexity with the result of cost reduction will enable the chance of higher market penetration. The CLS has aprox. 350 pieces. This huge number has to be decreased. The system has to be simplified and more integration is a good lever.
- Less energy consumption. Today, we speak about 100Lm/W and sometimes 150Lm/W for the light source. In reality on the Mercedes CLS, there is less than 20Lm/W on the road – and this is absolute benchmark at the moment. That number is expected to double in the next 5 years. There is a potential of saving of 100W per car very soon in comparison with standard lighting devices.
- More styling differentiation. There are still huge possibilities working on the Mercedes signature without too much complexity and always with the optimum light performance.
However, Uwe is convinced that LED technology is the future of lighting thanks 3 main and great benefits: