This week I visited 2 companies, first ZKW, a small Austrian lighting company known for its cutting-edge technological skills, and then Ford Köln, the big generalist car maker.
I was impressed by the somehow unexpected similar innovative spirit I discovered in these two companies as far as new lighting technologies are concerned.
I discovered at ZKW several LED headlight prototypes equipped with the same standard LED modules but laid out differently (BMW 3 series, Mercedes GLK and E Class), and Jürgen Antonitsch confirmed in his interview (see next week) that there is much more in development. Engineering staff seemed very busy and research & development capacity is expected to increase from 400 to 600 people within the 5 next years.
At Ford Germany, I knew the company had made a decision 2 years ago to leave behind their reputation as a fast follower in lighting. Thorsten Warwel ( see interview here under) and his boss Mark Witschel together with their team convinced me that new lighting technologies were now praised at Ford at the highest decision levels for their impact on brand signature, on differentiating styling power and on image building.
Of particular interest, I noted: Xenon 25W, LEDs front and rear light, strong link between engineering and styling, common worldwide team. It was really very impressive.
Indeed, lighting is taking a strong place in cars re-styling and facelifts. Experts and engineers are doing an excellent job, only possible thanks to the involvement of their management who takes responsibility for the additional costs. We have to be cautious in front of the increase of engineering resources, people have to be trained and need time.
As we have often repeated, we still need to greatly improve our way to communicate with end-users and dealers about their perception of advanced lighting added value. Let us work together on it and we will be proud of our common success.
DVN General Editor