Lighting systems are seamlessly integrated in vehicles whether they are external or internal light. They are now standardised between platforms to ensure the common thread of branding amongst different OEMs. Lighting systems are optimised to ensure energy balance that helps energy management in vehicles. The challenge of balancing the cost against the system specifications to meet the changing norms and regulations, and customer aspirations is now considered an opportunity that is leveraged by the OEMs.
Innovations in lighting systems have ensured that customer confidence and safety are addressed across the board. Headlights that turn as the steering wheel turns assist in visibility for the driver at high speeds. The innovations in night vision have increased pedestrian and driver safety, enabling high speed and safe night driving or during poor visibility due to weather conditions.
The approach to lighting in automobiles has changed from providing something that was functional & utility based, to something that portrays aesthetics, styling and design brand of a vehicle. In addition, targets of energy savings, recyclability, weight reduction and CO2 footprint are defined upstream since these are influencers to the key deliverables of a vehicle platform. From a manufacturability and longevity perspective, the Tier 1 partners have been well integrated upstream and they in turn integrate the specifics defined by OEMs.
For regions, where regulations and norms require headlights to be switched on during the day, manufacturers have developed innovative designs that consume the least amount of energy and help in longevity of other electrical systems and energy storage devices. The energy sustainability of a lighting system is tied to that of the energy sustainability of a vehicle. It is important that a holistic integrated design, development and manufacturing strategy is in place to ensure a sustainable implementation plan. Sustainability has also improved because lighting has become significantly modular and when it comes to assembly lines in vehicle manufacturing, the time at the assembly stations for a lighting system is miniscule. The modularity also helps in economies of scale since these can be deployed across different platforms seamlessly.
Over the years, the aspect of lighting aesthetics has gained prominence in vehicle styling and design. Advancements in plastics, type of LEDs, flexibility in wiring, lower thermal management challenges and adapting light to the exterior body panels and cabin interiors has enabled better aesthetics and opened an array of opportunities. The advancement in the peripherals associated with lighting has also helped innovate and develop unique application needs. Vehicles today have the ability to provide soft or bright lighting, lighting inside the vehicle that is motion controlled and has the possibility of changing the intensity, depending on the ambient light and position of the sun or oncoming vehicular traffic.
A very different perspective that lighting brings to the socio-economic aspects is the large scale employability. The ramp up and training required for the skill development is necessary only for certain functions, and the rate of training and becoming productive is much faster. The other aspect that stands out in employability is the gender diversity ratio. By opening employment opportunities to the larger population of job-seekers, this particular industry is a forerunner among many others.
Lighting, like many other systems in a vehicle, forms a cornerstone in any vehicle platform. Customers tend to judge a vehicle by the exterior looks and lights, and the wow factor it brings in the cabin, its instrument panel and the lit instrument cluster. Lighting plays an important role in enhancing the style quotient of a vehicle through innovations that have played a major role.