LED lighting for automotive applications is growing globally due to its inherent advantages of efficiency and sustainability. As more industrialisation happens globally, the growth of lighted spaces for working and living is placing an increasing demand on electricity generation, distribution facilities and infrastructure. LED-based lighting has emerged as a responsible way for this growth to be managed. Auto Tech Review met Avinder Singh, Managing Director & CEO, Osram Lighting Pvt Ltd to discuss the scope of LEDs in vehicles and the reasons for its fast adoption.
Car manufacturers today are unanimously opting for increased use of LED lighting over other types of lights due to their ease of assembly, reliability, longevity, and competitive pricing. They believe that LED lights will have a bright future for automotive lighting applications because they have more advantages than conventional lights. LED lighting is adaptive to different environmental and traffic-related requirements, the dynamic bending of light or adaptive front lighting systems are helping drivers see the obstacles on the road clearly.
Osram is optimistic about the growth in LED technology being driven by global OEMs in India. US-based companies have gone to South America, the Japanese have gone to Thailand and Vietnam and the Europeans have come to India, where they have good vendor support, Singh said. “The Europeans and Americans relate to the Indian better. All this may translate into better business for the Indian lighting industry, said Singh.
FUTURE PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY
Osram plans to continue investing in R&D for traditional lighting sources. Within halogen, the company sees a long-term opportunity to further innovate by getting more performance out of the bulb in terms of filament technology and coating technology. “We could look at retrofits using LED technology for India in future as their performance improves. This involves replacing a traditional bulb with LED technology so that the customer can avail the benefits of the LED lamp without changing the headlamp,” said Singh.
The company currently has products in high intensity discharge (HID) segment and for xenon technology but a latent potential for LED retrofits in the replacement market still exists. Osram has developed a product for the replacement market and is looking to bring it in the future. There are versions of LED retrofits already available here in India but they are used in applications like fogs that are not particularly interesting for the mass market, said Singh. “In the next couple of years, we will have interesting forward lighting solutions like high beam and low beam driving lights,” he said.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are expected to accelerate the penetration of LEDs as traditional lights are drawing too much of energy from the drivetrain, and EVs cannot justify the traditional lighting source, said Singh. From the energy wattage standpoint HID has seen significant improvement in the past 10-15 years with the 35 W coming down to 25 W in terms of energy efficiency. In the future, LEDs are expected to be 7-10 times more efficient, especially in EVs.
Osram’s market share in lighting in India is currently around 8-9 %, but in automotive lighting, it enjoys over 20 % share. The replacement market contributes around 25 % of the company’s revenues in the automotive space, while 50 % business comes from OEMs. The Chinese lighting market size is much bigger, but trend wise, India is catching up. In the Asia Pacific region, India and China are the focus areas and backbone of the region. They are the growth engine for the whole world, and by 2020, India would be among the top markets for Osram, Singh said. There are some interesting activities in China, where they do manual retrofitting of headlamps, which allows the opportunity to integrate newer technology in a traditionally-fitted vehicle.
The challenges before the lighting industry are two-pronged – the design element and rapid deployment of newer technologies. Aesthetics play an important role in the buying decision and the design of the lights is increasingly being used to enhance the appeal of a vehicle. So the role of a lighting manufacturer has progressed from being merely a component supplier to being associated with the manufactures right from the concept stage. For this to happen, considerable investments have to be made in R&D and constant up-gradation of manufacturing capabilities is imperative.
The other challenge is that the time lag between development of new technologies and their deployment has dropped considerably. Today lighting manufacturers have to be more responsive and ready to adapt to changing technologies at a pace not seen before in the manufacturing sector. As product replacement cycles become shorter, the pace of adaptation is likely to become even more frantic. On the technology aspect, conventional bulbs are getting replaced by LEDs, metal with plastic parts, in addition to new features and technology like adaptive front lighting and high intensity discharge xenon lamps. These intelligent lighting systems entail faster learning cycles.
Singh is confident that the automotive lighting industry is poised for another dramatic change in the next decade, where lighting systems in high-end vehicles will become standard equipment on lower-end models as well. The introduction of laws making auto-headlamp-on (AHO) a standard feature augurs well for the Indian market.
TEXT: Anwesh Koley