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Next Step for Xenon: Fully Integrated Xenon 25W (part 3 of 3) PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 08 February 2010
Xenon 25W is increasingly being seen and planned as an optimal solution for better lighting in the near future for most cars.

Fully integrated Xenon 25W comes with 5 advantages and one obstacle.
The first 4 advantages, weight and volume reduction, shortened LCL and 12/24 volt line voltage, were presented and discussed in our last 2 weekly newsletters.
Here now is the fifth advantage and the obstacle to overcome:

Advantage 5: one single part
Xenon systems consist of a bulb with an integrated or separate igniter, a shielded cable, special connectors, and an ECU (ballast). In and around today’s headlamps we have 3 major parts. Each interface is a source of quality issues. Where to put the ballast? In every vehicle development project, the same discussion takes place because the ECU needs to be in or near the headlamp. This requires either a costly extra housing or often a complicated slider technology in the tool.

The fully integrated 25W Xenon system under discussion in the European experts working group is targeting a unitized solution with everything inside. The hassles will be gone; easy development and reduced tool costs are coming. While nobody was able to specify the cost delta for service and parts operations or the OEM aftermarket between having 3 spare parts versus a single one, everyone agrees parts proliferation costs money for the production period and the 15 years beyond. Yes, one single part is a good idea to avoid needless waste of money.

Obstacle: Reengineering the 25W Xenon AFS system.
In opposition to the five advantages, there is an obstacle if we consider the full electronic integration. It is the amortization of all new designs:
- Fully integrated Xenon 25W bulb
- Reengineering of the projector module to consider the 17mm shorter light centre length and reengineering of the dynamic bending light module.

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Editorial

Paradigm Shift Ahead? PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 01 February 2010
By   Kamislav FADEL, Head of A.L./Automotive Lighting R&D

Get ready: the current balance of innovation, competitiveness and globalisation in our field is ripe for big changes. Automotive lights and signals are evolving at a fast and accelerating pace never before seen. Each new model release shows new lighting features.
 
In past times, the key innovation factor was performance; competition was focused on how to give the driver maximum light for the best possible safety. The progression of headlight bulbs, R2 followed by H1, H4, H7 and D2 defines the curve of what we have achieved in progressive lighting performance improvement.
By and by, styling began to exert more influence on car lights. This pushed the uptake of window-clear lenses and new technologies in optics and packaging, and introduced LED technology. Meanwhile, the R&D efforts of the major lighting suppliers were developing AFS technology. This enhances lighting performance and gives a substantial safety benefit for the driver. Meanwhile, lighting design is becoming a strong lever for brand and vehicle family identity and advertisement of the vehicle's level of technical sophistication.

New factors in lighting design are linked to global concerns. The ecological trend is pushing the reduction of power consumption to reduce CO2 emissions. Forthcoming electric vehicles need careful attention to weight and packaging reduction with respect to available power to optimise the range and fit the decreasing available volume. In addition, competition among premium car makers is becoming stronger and stronger on advanced lighting technologies involving sophisticated electronics and lighting components and requiring even more resources and expertise in both conventional and novel lighting-related fields.

The big lighting suppliers have different solutions to these shifting market demands. All of them need to invest heavily in R&D to lead the trend. At the same time, most of them have to face the globalisation trend, increasing competition from low-cost countries, the drastic development time reduction and growing pressure on development costs. There is no single best solution, and suppliers' various priorities and approaches will create unique technical cocktails. On the other hand, standardisation will be a great challenge.

Honestly I find this period very exciting with all the opportunities but also the threats that will come. I am convinced also that we will observe increasing market awareness of the pivotal role that headlights and rear lights are assuming in vehicle technology and design and, of course, in traffic safety.

 

Kamislav FADEL,
AL/Automotive Lighting

 
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