More than ever before, vehicle lighting offers three distinct levers to persuade the car buyer: styling differentiation; technology and lighting performance; and easy, effective communication.
Styling differentiation, we might call the main factor, for it is the most readily visible to the casual observer of the car. Automakers actively and increasingly use lighting to differentiate their new models and to give a distinctive signature to their brand. The DRL was at the forefront—take a look at Audi’s early white LED DRLs, which touched off an industrywide trend—and now LEDs in the main lighting functions give sparkle and style to wonderful new front ends.
Technology and lighting performance are next on the list. The prime current example is ADB which will take more and more importance if—but only if!—drivers are informed and educated about the fantastic benefits of this technology, and able to buy it without spending extra thousands for an option package or trim level they don’t want; we mustn’t repeat that sad error we made with HID.
Thirdly, lighting becomes more and more a communication vector, a billboard of sorts, to advertise the otherwise-hidden technology content of the car and the value of the brand. This week in France, for instance, Renault launched a big advertising campaign for their new Kadjar crossover. It doesn’t show the entire car, but only one headlamp with its two LED modules. This kind of synecdoche used to trumpet the arrival of a whole new car is a clear signal that vehicle lighting has utterly shed its former boring-commodity skin and metamorphosed into a primary, main focal point of maker attention and buyer fascination.
We’ve good reason for optimism about the future of our careers—provided we continue rowing the boat in the right direction. Lighting engineers and designers from automakers, together with R&D departments of lighting suppliers, must convince marketing departments to use lighting in their advertisements. We in this community are a little biased; the fascination of lighting is self-evident to us. To convince non-specialists and keep them convinced will take, on an ongoing basis, new arguments, persuasive surveys, and clear descriptions of technical advances described at congresses.
We have today all these tools we never had in the past. Thoughtfully used together, all these levers can only bolster interest in new lighting technologies for car makers and drivers. Onward and upward!
DVN General Editor