The DVN 2021 Study starts with two prefaces which highlight the content; one from Wolfgang Huhn, DVN Study team and former head of lighting and vision systems development at Audi; and the second from Ford’s Vehicle Programs Director Jackie Marshall DiMarco. Both prefaces brim with expertise gained by the authors’ deep and relevant experience in project management. We present below these two prefaces:
Wolfgang Huhn, DVN Study team leader; former Audi head of lighting & vision development
In this study you will find a somewhat unusual description of the early phase of a vehicle creation process. The whole study is a team result of course, however I wrote my contributions in an emotional and engaged way because this was part of my daily life and—all in all—it was a great time.
Most of the examples, especially in the content of chapter 9, are based on my personal experience in the lighting engineering part of the vehicle development process. During my working life, the importance of lighting changed dramatically from a commodity to a brand-shaping element. This study includes the different demands, interests and influences of design, marketing, and lighting engineering inside an automaker.
My intention was to provide an insight, where the doors are normally totally closed, to help with mutual understanding among the automaker and the tier-1 and -2 suppliers. The development phase of a new vehicle model is full of time and cost pressures, unexpected changes, and late decisions. Design sets the trends and creates exciting shapes (where the form doesn’t necessarily always follow the function from the lighting point of view). Marketing defines the future customer expectations inside the brand values. Lighting engineering makes all this feasible with technical innovations together with the suppliers, and the vehicle program director is the referee. Lighting is a fascinating job—believe me!
Jackie Marshall DiMarco, Ford Vehicle Programs Director
At Ford Motor Company, we continue on our journey to help build a better world where every person is free to move and pursue their dreams. This journey for each customer is very personal and can manifest itself in a relationship with a vehicle for personal use, for work purposes, or both. We have found that exterior lighting is a complex part of that relationship and journey, now more than ever based on the signature and performance aspects that need to be brought together to bring unforgettable character to the vehicle while delivering unparalleled customer satisfaction.
The vehicle development process begins years before images of our new models are released for public consumption, as do the tensions between the teams bringing life to the vehicle throughout the creative and engineering processes. The healthy tension between design studios, marketing, and product development is a serious reality, as explored in this DVN Study. As a global automaker developing platforms for multi-market usage, we must also consider the strong impact of certification/homologation throughout the markets when carefully considering the content for each vehicle. A single or limited-region product is relatively simple to plan and develop as compared to a multi-regional or even global platform in which the tough choices become more complex in lockstep with the diversity in regulations and customer preferences.
We can consider the styling (design), voice-of-the-customer (marketing), and technical requirements (engineering) all as separate inputs to the development of lighting products between the automaker and suppliers, however at their essence there is one factor: the customer. The lighting and vehicle design must communicate artistry and technology, but if they are not working in harmony to create an attractive and desirable aesthetic, the styling exercise has failed.
Marketing indeed has the crucial role to monitor the pulse of the needs of the customer in terms of features and content. And finally, while we may view the engineering activity is a dry, unemotional process, at the heart of it are specifications designed to ensure customer satisfaction throughout the life of the vehicle. And so, we are constantly balancing the valid arguments of the various domains always with the customer at the centre of the debate. When we discuss exterior lighting on the vehicle, we also may be limiting ourselves to the legally required functions. We need to think beyond these boundaries as well when adding functionality to our vehicle in terms of more signature lit content or even perimeter/zone lighting to get the maximum out of every day in terms of work and play.
Our customers are pursuing their dreams, and lighting products create safety through visibility, drive passion, enable businesses to get work done, and bring our family members safely home at night in that pursuit. Going forward, the greater lighting community can reduce these omnipresent tensions through increased modularity as well as the harmonisation of lighting regulations and performance criteria throughout the primary markets. A higher focus in these areas will allow us to bring more innovative and safer products to the markets that relate to the significant automotive paradigm shifts that are under way.