As the push towards electric mobility accelerates globally, apart from OEMs, suppliers too are progressively heading in the same direction. Varroc Lighting Systems (VLS), the automotive lighting division of the Aurangabad-based US$ 1.3 billion (Rs 8,212 crore) Tier 1 major Varroc Group, is the fourth largest supplier of lighting components to automobile companies worldwide and, like many others, is seen making headway into the electric vehicle space.
Not many know that the company, which has actively engaged with automakers worldwide to make LED technology widely accepted in modern vehicles, supplies the complete exterior lighting solutions on two of the most advanced EV products out available in the market. And they are both Teslas.
Varroc also is a key lighting equipment supplier to other prominent vehicle manufacturers like Skoda Auto, Mahindra & Mahindra, Bentley Motors, Bajaj Auto and KTM.
VLS provides the entire lighting system on the Tesla Model S sedan and the Tesla Model X crossover. Speaking to Autocar Professional recently, Todd Morgan, senior vice-president, Global Product Development, VLS (pictured above), said, “With the ongoing dramatic shift in the world of mobility, we have the opportunity to work with a number of EV start-ups in the four-wheeler space. We are currently doing the 100 percent lighting for the Tesla Model S and the Model X.”
Glo-cal approach and frugal engineering
With electronic componentry rapidly increasing inside vehicles, embedded software also plays a vital role in lighting technology. Software helps ensure all lighting controls are in place, driver modules have some level of control and there is a simple control for all the effects, including the welcome features and the multitude of customisation options available with light settings in the modern day cars.
“Our engineering team here in India has been actively involved in developing the software controls for the lighting components going into these Tesla models,” said Morgan.
“This has been an aspect of our strategy to push the local teams to be a part of the global programs at Varroc. This has lead to know-how gains here in India, as well as is finding us a way to squeeze the costs down with the frugal Indian way of working, which is always to our advantage with having a locally situated development centre,” added Morgan.
The company, which had set up its temporary development centre in Pune last year, is set to move into an entirely new state-of-the-art facility, near its manufacturing facility in Aurangabad by the end of this month.
According to Morgan, “I recently toured the facility. It truly is world class with all the high-end labs; even better than what we have back in Europe. It is going to be a great facility for engineers, and we also have room for expansion to up to 200 engineers from the current 120, over a span of next one to one-and-a-half years. A majority of these associates will be working on global projects and doing real development. We also focus on knowledge-transfer by rotating people in Europe and India, and encouraging them to lead global programs to get the maximum exposure. So, having a contributing development centre in India will help in driving innovation for the local market as well.”
LED-ing the way
VLS is driving acceptance of LED technology in a big way. Morgan explains, “LEDs are designed for the life of a vehicle, and the more prominent DRL is exactly the same and is non-serviceable. These are designed in a way that they are cooled properly and are able to sustain themselves in all the environmental situations they are subjected to.”
“We work very closely with light-source vendors including Osram, Lumileds and Nichia, and have rigorous checks on the specifications and make sure that the lifetime requirements are met in these bulbs. Also, the cost of white LEDs is dropping significantly, and that is what is making OEs invest heavily in this direction as they see a lot of customer demand coming in for such lighting solutions on their mainstream models as well.”
While Varroc’s major business in India is driven by supplies into passenger car models including the likes of the Mahindra XUV 500, Scorpio, Skoda Rapid and the Octavia, recently the company has also seen a lot of demand for contemporary lighting solutions coming in from the two-wheeler segment. It currently supplies the LED headlamps on the Bajaj Dominar 400 and the KTM Duke 2017 series.