Better to See you With

I have a long love affair with automotive lighting due to the years I spent in the industry (exactly how many I will not put in writing).  Suffice to say I saw firsthand the move from  standardized sealed beams, to replaceable bulb aerodynamic lenses, to reflector optics and clear lenses,  to HID and now LED’s.  At each step along the way we used innovative new technologies to improve the performance only to see limited market acceptance due to high costs and consumer apathy.  

Acura NSX Concept Headlamp   source: American Honda

Acura NSX Concept Headlamp                                                                                        source: American Honda

But then automakers’ Design Staff took our innovations, tweaked them, and turned them into something desirable (and successful).  The latest example?  Audi’s Design Staff figuring out that lighting technology could allow them to identify their brand at night.

Audi S7      source: Audi USA

Audi S7                                                                                                                                                        source: Audi USA

And the entire market is following.  So with limited words, here are some pictures of great looking headlamps……

Bentley Flying Spur       source: Daniele Madia

Bentley Flying Spur                                                                                                                   source: Daniele Madia

BMW 4-Series Concept    source: AACS

BMW 4-Series Concept                                                                                                                                      source: AACS

No longer just round, BMW’s lighting signature is branching out into new more-organic shapes.

Cadillac ELR         source: Ingo Rautenberg

Cadillac ELR                                                                                                                                    source: Ingo Rautenberg

Cadillac is the only domestic manufacturer that is really embracing the concept of identifying the brand of a vehicle in your rear-view mirror with a unique lighting signature.

Giugiaro Parcour Concept     source: Daniele Madia

Giugiaro Parcour Concept                                                                                                                    source: Daniele Madia

3-D shapes are coming.  The shape of the lamp on this Giugiaro concept seems to float.

Infiniti Q50      source: AACS

Infiniti Q50                                                                                                                                                          source: AACS

Jeep Grand Cherokee      source: Chrysler

Jeep Grand Cherokee                                                                                                                                     source: Chrysler

Projector lamps are all the rage because they are somewhat modular and cut down on development time.  But they all look the same.  How long can this trend continue?

McLaren P1   source: Daniele Madia

McLaren P1                                                                                                                                           source: Daniele Madia

Mercedes E-Class source: AACS

Mercedes E-Class                                                                                                                                                  source: AACS

Lamps started square and round, then became oblong and oval in shape as they wrapped around the corners of the vehicle.  Nowadays a lamp can have just about any shape you can imagine, including the boomerang shape that many Infinities are sporting these days.

Nissan Resonance Concept    source: AACS

Nissan Resonance Concept                                                                                                                                    source: AACS

Porsche Boxster source: AACS

Porsche Boxster                                                                                                                                                      source: AACS

The final trend we are seeing these days is an increased integration between the headlamp and the grille.  The 3-Series ties the grille into the headlamp in an awkward way, but many other vehicles have significantly more sophisticated executions, like the Ford Flex and Honda CR-V.

BMW 3-Series       source: Daniele Madia

BMW 3-Series                                                                                                                                   source: Daniele Madia


Ford Flex source: Motor Trend

Ford Flex                                                                                                                                    source: Motor Trend

Honda CR-V     source: Honda

Honda CR-V                                                                                                                                             source: Honda

In the end, some manufacturers are still taking the simple path – which is really an opportunity wasted.

Spyker C8 Aileron   source: Spyker

Spyker C8 Aileron                                                                                                            source: Spyker

Later this week  we will be back with a report from Autorama and check out the winners from the Steel Wheel Design Competition.  And the first correct person to identify this last vehicle gets a special prize.


Mystery vehicle                                                                                                                                   source: Daniele Madia

About Frank Schwartz

Frank Schwartz is the founder of and Advanced Automotive Consulting Services, partner in The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment and serial entrepeneur. A long time automotive enthusiast, Frank started reading car magazines at the age of 8 and has spent 30+ years working inside the automotive industry. In his spare time Frank races with the Sports Car Club of America, spends time working on his numerous project cars and supports many local charities.
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