“The wonderful world of passenger car lighting” covers in around 100 pages the history of a century of achievements in the automotive lighting industry, from the first tungsten filament light source to the cutting edge “intelligent Xenon” and LED headlamps which came in production during the last years of this 2010 decade. We identify the main players, lighting suppliers and car makers, who contributed to bring this industry to its current advanced technological and economical state. We outline the future potential of new lighting technologies.
This report presents in its first chapter the history of automotive Lighting through around 50 meaningful events, calling back to mind 6 successive technological breakthroughs: halogen bulbs, complex optics, Xenon light sources, dynamic bending lights, adaptive cut-off with auto beam select, LED headlights better than Xenon, but also 2 dead-end lighting developments: polarised light and UV-augmented head lighting.
In the second chapter, putting aside halogen considered as a well-known conventional technology, the author draws a complete description of current lighting technologies with their on-going developments, completed by the author vision of the future of lighting technologies in a time filled with numerous and great lighting innovations. The following technologies are presented in details: rear LED systems, Xenon 35w, A.F.S., Xenon 25w, LED, and adaptive systems.
The author wished to acknowledge in the third chapter the great contribution of lighting companies which do not exist anymore, and especially some remarkable characters acting as top engineers or managers personally involved in bringing lighting innovations to the market and lobbying to introduce resulting regulations: once-major players like Bosch, Carello, Cibié, Guide, Lucas, Marchal. and Seima. Thanks to them, automotive lighting is today at this cutting edge level which we are all proud of.
This future is now depending on global lighting suppliers the most important of which are introduced in chapter 4: Automotive Lighting, Farba, Hella, Ichikoh, Koito, Magna, Mobis, Odelo, SL Corporation, Stanley, Valeo, Visteon, ZKW Zizala. For each of these companies, the author covers shortly its history, sales, organization, R&D and projects, main successes and its main contributors to lighting innovations.
Chapter 5 covers car makers and how lighting fits into their strategy. The author has selected seven car makers based on their past and current contribution to lighting and their strategy is presented emphasizing the 3 levers of lighting, performance, styling differentiation and energy consumption.
Audi, first to demonstrate how lighting can become a great lever to sell cars and improve safety, BMW who have been the first to show the way for decisive styling differentiation with the 2 round reflector/projector modules, combined with Xenon systems, Mercedes and their aggressive lighting communication strategy since the C-Class vehicles and their “Complex Shape/Calculated Form” headlamps, Opel making their biggest lighting step with the Insigna at the end of 2008, and confirming their styling language with the Astra and Meriva, Renault and PSA who led most of the lighting innovations until 1990 and which focus their strategy to affordable lighting innovations including LED technologies, and finally Volkswagen creating at the end of 2008 an interdisciplinary team to develop innovative lighting systems with the first results on the new Phaeton and Touareg.
In chapter 6 are introduced the two main organizations which build lighting regulation, GTB and SAE, as well as the most famous automotive lighting congresses and shows.
Finally, in chapter 7, universities which play a key role in lighting technologies are presented: Darmstadt which teaches and lectures many OEM lighting players, Nuremberg and L-Lab, and UMTRI and LRC two US universities involved in lighting, last but not least for the future of our industry, Fudan University Research Centre in Shanghai.