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.
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.
And the entire market is following. So with limited words, here are some pictures of great looking headlamps……
No longer just round, BMW’s lighting signature is branching out into new more-organic shapes.
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.
3-D shapes are coming. The shape of the lamp on this Giugiaro concept seems to float.
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?
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.
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.
In the end, some manufacturers are still taking the simple path – which is really an opportunity wasted.
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.