Automechanika 2016: Expert interview

Hans-Joachim Schwabe, CEO of the Specialty Lighting business unit at OSRAM provides insights into the new products at the Automechanika and explains where the future of automotive light is heading.

Hans-Joachim Schwabe: CEO Specialty Lighting at OSRAM

1. OSRAM is once again showing at the Automechanika this year. Which innovations can visitors look forward to in 2016?

Hans-Joachim Schwabe: As the leading producer in the automotive lighting sector OSRAM is once again presenting many innovations dedicated to “vehicle light for upgrading” this year. Visitors can take a close look at our latest developments and experience these live on the stand across five different areas. With traditional lighting technologies for example we’re showing the Night Breaker Laser – a halogen lamp with especially high light output. A high-precision window is lasered via ablation into the lamp’s burner for the light cone. Together with the precisely positioned holder and a high quality xenon gas filling, the Night Breaker Laser generates up to 130 percent more light and up to 20 percent whiter light compared to standard halogen lamps. Its up to 40 meter-longer light cone also provides an even better overview in road traffic. Visitors to the fair can also see our enhanced Ultra Life halogen lamp and the new Xenarc Ultra Life xenon lamp that have up to four times-longer lifespans and for which we give a 10-year guarantee.

A further innovation is the LEDriving Xenarc retrofit headlight for the Golf VI that we’ll be showing to customers in three different upgrading versions: GTI, Black and Chrome. The complete headlight, as with the model shown for the first time in 2014, is equipped with a combination of xenon and LED technology and enables the approved upgrading from halogen to xenon light without the need for larger rebuilds. Visitors can also witness our new, expanded product series of app-controlled LED Styling Lights and the LED inspection lamps in action.

We will also be showing our new, integrated packaging concept for all vehicle lamps and light sources at the event. This allows us to present our product spectrum in a more modern and attractive look in the future, and more strongly oriented to customers. The clearly recognizable and distinguishable color coding is being used as a central element of design together with the new structuring of the portfolio based on purchase motivation and type of customer. For example, all packaging for the Performance product spectrum will be available in an intensive red, all design-oriented products will have a modern blue and our LED products will be displayed in high quality black packaging.

2. Can your products be tested as well?

Schwabe: Absolutely. Our products are for everyday use and should of course be tried out. For this reason, a car is once again the center of our fair presentation – a Ford Mustang GT equipped with the latest innovations.

A highlight for visitors are experiential rooms on the stand where all the latest developments are shown and can be experienced. Also to be seen are our enhanced LED Styling Light range of products that accompany the trend towards customizing vehicle interiors and exteriors. In a room based on a vehicle interior, visitors can control light individually via an app to combine music and light for example where individual genres are linked with suitable colors. If classic music is played for example the room could be illuminated in blue.

With solutions for outdoor applications, LEDambient CONNECT products could be assembled in headlights just as conventional lamps are, to also be controlled with the app. We offer these for free for the iOS and Android smartphone operating systems.

3. As well as LED, new technologies such as laser and OLED are now found in cars. Which potential to these technologies have?

Schwabe: Laser technology opens up completely new opportunities for headlight design, and individualizing a vehicle can then of course be driven forward even further. Currently we see the laser in the form of supplementary high beam light in the new BMW 7 series, BMW i8 or Audi R8 LMX for example, and OSRAM supplied the laser module as the world’s only manufacturer at the moment.

If we follow this through we can identify further application options, for example as complete laser high beam light or in hybrid headlights with an LED and laser combination. Intelligent and adaptive headlight generations could also come to the foreground with laser technology. Headlights in the future could be designed more compactly than before without dispensing with light intensity, and could also precisely illuminate specific objects in the road section.

With OLED technology we’ve also been able to impressively confirm our pioneering role. With the BMW M4 GTS for example we equipped the first series vehicle with OLED in the tail lights, and another premium car is to follow during the course of the year. We’re also concurrently working on flexible OLEDs for vehicle lighting, as shown by the recently concluded BMBF (Federal Ministry for Education and Research) R2D2 subsidy project.

We will also see further developments with lighting solutions based on LED technology. In the mid-term we expect standard solutions and standard modules with LED that will enable the further proliferation of LED into more economic vehicle classes. It was for this reason that we strengthened ourselves a few weeks ago with the purchase of Novità Technologies, a U.S. manufacturer of automotive LED modules.

4. How has the automotive market in the lighting sector progressed recently and where do you see OSRAM in the future? How do you wish to position yourselves?

Schwabe: The trend towards customizing vehicles with headlight designs or by using special interior lighting with simultaneously high demands in technological efficiency continues to strongly characterize the automotive market. It’s here that we’re currently developing further lighting solutions for headlights and tail lights together with vehicle manufacturers, and mainly on the basis of new technologies such as laser and OLED.

Individuality though is also becoming increasingly important in the aftermarket. Our LED Styling Light products to be seen at the fair and our LED retrofit products mean that any consumer can design their vehicles as individually as they wish using energy-efficient solutions.

Furthermore, as a long-term and reliable partner in the automotive sector it’s very important for us to offer the right lighting solution for all customers around the world, and for any application. It’s not a question of simply selling products – we also wish to create synergies in the automotive industry. We’re ideally set up for the future challenges and wishes of customers thanks to our globally pioneering role in terms of innovation, technology, service and quality, our global sales network and production locations and development located across various continents.

Thank you!