Motherson sets out to democratise high-end vehicle lighting tech

by Mayank Dhingra 13 Jul 2021

Tier 1 giant Motherson Group’s automotive lighting division – a joint venture with Italy’s Marelli Automotive Lighting – is working towards deep localisation of exterior vehicle lighting solutions in India.

The company says that the partnership with Marelli allows it to access the latest in technology as well as manufacturing processes in exterior automotive lighting, which have enabled it to take bold steps, such as introducing LED rear lamps in the Mahindra Verito Vibe – a segment-first feature back in 2014.

The company’s four manufacturing plants – one in Bawal (Haryana), two in Pune (Maharashtra) and lastly in Sanand (Gujarat) – have a total annual production capacity of 850,000 car sets of headlamps and 800,000 rear lamps. All the mechanical design, styling, simulations as well as electronics development is also being conducted in India at the company’s application-and-engineering centre in Pune. 

“Right from the modules to the projectors and PCB assembly, most of our products offer a large localisation content in the automotive lighting space,” said Vishal Kabadi, president, Lighting and Electronics, Motherson Group.

“We are further increasing localisation. Other than the PCBs, which are being assembled, it is the ECUs, which are next in line to undergo localisation, and work has already commenced in this area,” he added while speaking with Autocar Professional in an exclusive interview.

Democratising matrix solutions
The company is also working towards democratising high-end matrix headlight systems, which offer adaptive driving beam (ADB) functionality to automatically dip and adjust the headlights’ throw to prevent the illumination from blaring into onlookers’ eyes, especially on two-way carriageways, while allowing superior light intensity compared to conventional halogen orprojector headlamps.

“A lot of innovation is set to come to India. Europe is far ahead of us in terms of ADB, matrix solutions and full rear-combination lamps that cover the entire rear profile of the vehicle,” said Kabadi.

“We are in a very good space in terms of launching new products and technologies. We have just started initial discussions with a couple of OEMs about the way forward to bring the matrix technology to India,” he added.

While initially the ADB kit itself might need to be imported due to volume limitations, once the volumes grow, it would be the next area to see efforts to enhance localisation for cost optimisation.

“I would be optimistic to see these making their way into the sub-Rs 20 lakh price segment of vehicles, but it needs to be seen which vehicle type or body form will adopt them first – hatchbacks, sedans or SUVs,” he stated.

Automotive lighting trends
Giving an overview of the latest trends in exterior automotive lighting in the passenger vehicle segment in the country, Kabadi explained that India has evolved from predominantly being a bulb-dominated market a decade ago to now LEDs, which started coming into rear lamps around 2014. “Headlamps have only caught up over the last five to six years.”

More than 80-85 percent of Motherson’s present lighting portfolio to OEMs including Maruti Suzuki India (Baleno, Vitara Brezza), Honda Cars India (City, Amaze), Tata Motors (Nexon, Safari, Harrier), Stellantis (Jeep Compass) and Renault (Duster) comprises LED-based lighting solutions, which are “more on the front-end of the car than at the rear”.

“This trend is going to continue and most B-segment-and-above cars are already using LEDs,” said Kabadi.

While modern-day trends in rear lamps focus on styling and define a brand’s signature concept with more use of LEDs emerging as a unique selling proposition, the front is related to both styling as well as safety, according to the Motherson top executive. 

“Lighting features that use sensors and aid pedestrian protection as well as signalling for oncoming traffic have been developed over the last four years, and are also available across the globe,” remarked Kabadi.

“These features will come as the next revolution in automotive lighting in India over the next four-five years,” he signed off.

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