Mike Nicholas spoke at the 2016 Advanced Lighting For Automotive conference in Detroit, Michigan about the trends in automotive design. Mr. Nicholas is the Senior Manager of Advanced Lighting Group at FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
When discussing forward lighting Mr. Nicholas suggested that there is a desire for auto makers to have a more integrated headlamp design where the front of the car seems to be all one unit in a sense. Instead of the traditional design where components start and stop, first a headlight, then a grille, then a bumper cover… the design trend of the future is for the entire clip to be a single integrated continuous part of the vehicle.
“Low profile headlamps convey technology quality and efficiency…”
Along with headlamp integration Mr. Nicholas also talked about seeing different OEM’s using “signature DRL shapes” which is already quite prevalent. It’s pretty easy to see that a vehicle coming down the road toward you is an Audi by the swooping shape of it’s LED DRL. This sort of light-shape-branding will become more and more prevalent in future design trends. To accommodate this growing trend of complex DRL shapes the OEM needs access to smaller LED modules, and further design flexibility.
When looking at other aspects of the vehicle lighting design Mr. Nicholas brought up OLED technology and how it may be used more and more widely by many manufacturers for tail light design. In the last couple years several manufacturers have released teasers to demonstrate what is capable with OLED technology in lighting and specifically BMW has released some pretty stunning designs and concepts.
“The BMW OLED tail lights look cool but at the end of the day it’s just a tail light. However, when it becomes customizable by the user/driver through an app or controller it will become truly valuable.”