The new advanced improvements of lighting have prompted the automotive industry stepping into a new transformative stage. Some new technologies have been developed and applied on automotive lighting products, such as LED and laser technologies. These new technologies offer better safety, greater performance, and more aesthetics for driving.

LED and laser technologies has been penetrating automotive lighting market since rectangular and round sealed-beam units were deregulated by the U.S. government during 1980s. As a result, the automotive lighting market has rapidly grown, and more and more people take headlamp performance and effectiveness into consideration when they rate and purchase a vehicle.

Market Value and Market Volume

The increased utilization and application of LED lighting on vehicles are caused by high demand of energy efficiency, weight reduction, and space saving. According to a bunch of automotive lighting research, a significant growth of lighting market is expected in the next couple of years. The results of a research conducted by Markets and Markets shows that the market value of automotive LED lighting will be reaching $29.53 billion with at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 7.22% by 2021. Similarly, Transparency Market Research suggests that the worldwide automotive lighting market is anticipated to be rising at a CAGR of 8.1% by 2021with $34.1 billion market value.

The market volume of automotive lighting is also expected to show significant growth in the coming years. According to some research, LEDinsider’s proposes that the volumes of LED used in exterior lighting applications will be reaching 3.67bbillion pieces by 2020. LED headlights market comprises an important proportion of exterior LEDs market. The market volumes of high-power LED headlights have been increasing year by year. Even though the price of high-power LED headlights has decreased, the increasing annual volume is anticipated to drive the market value to keep rising at a CAGR OF 8% by 2020. LEDinsider’s estimates that the LED volume applied on headlights and position lights will increase at a CAGR of 15% by 2020. LEDinsider’s additionally highlights that the high/low beam LED headlights are expected to grow by 23%CAGR by 2020.

Halogen, HID, and LED Headlights

Automotive headlights have been getting more attentions because increased safety concerns. The statistics of NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Association) presents that almost 50% of all passenger vehicle occupant fatalities come up on unlit roads, even though night driving only account for 25% of normal driving time. Primarily, headlight plays a crucial role in offering more safety while driving on unlit roads because it could help drive to get better visibility on dark roads.

There are three main types of headlights in the current market, including halogen, HID and LED. AAA progresses a research to compare the performance of these three types of headlights on unlit roads. According to some tests, AAA reports that halogen headlights has little possibility to light up unlit roads at speeds as low as 45 mph. Even under high beam settings, halogen only offer safety at speed of 48 mph. Compare to halogen headlights, HID and LED headlamps are reported to show better performance with 25% further than halogen headlights. However, AAA proposes that it is possible that both HID and LED headlights are still unable to illuminate at speeds fast than 45 mph. The high beam of HID and LED headlamps show more effectiveness because it could deliver better visibility and extend lighting distance up to 55 mph. It is surprised that although high beams offer more safety on unlit roads, only 33% of Americans use it frequently. It is necessary to popularize the function of high beams, and ask drivers to appropriately use it on unlit roads.

IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) is the first organization that provides headlighting ratings of some vehicles in the market. IIHS tests the performance of 31 midsize vehicles’ headlights and releases their headlight ratings. Unfortunately, only Toyota Prius V that equips with LED headlamps (only available for highest trim) and high-beam assistance obtains a good rating out of 31 midsize vehicles. The standard Prius which equips with halogen headlights just gets a poor rating. IIHS indicates that there is significant differentia between halogen and LED headlights because they translate to 20 mph differentia between safe driving and unsafe driving. This 20 mph is momentous because it determines if drivers can be prevented from an accident.

Technologies and Trends of Headlights

The technologies of automotive headlights have changed rapidly. Some new lighting technologies, innovations and the future trends of exterior lighting are displayed and released at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2017. Laser headlights will be more prevalent in headlights market in the future because of its high illuminance. The illuminance of high-beam laser headlights is 5 times higher than other headlights, and it offers 2 times further visibility rage, up to 600 meters. Laser headlights also features other benefits because of its smaller size. Laser headlights are smaller than other headlights. As a result, it allows application of smaller components. A fancy pixel headlight which is expected to be sold in automotive market by 2020 is shown at CES 2017.

In the future, headlights will be smarter and more effective by continuously detecting and react to the road and weather conditions. Osram, an automotive lighting supplier, develops an LED matrix chip which is made of 104 individual and controllable pixels. The latest headlights which are equipped three LED matrix chips can make adaptions under driving conditions all the time. This advanced headlight works based on a complicated system. An on-board camera is equipped to monitor approaching vehicle and pedestrian traffic and automatically dim the high beam LEDs to ensure the head area of oncoming drivers are out of the light beam. This system additionally shows intelligence to adapt to bends on the roads and ensure lighting up all dark peripheral. This advanced technology magnificently show that the integration of electronic activation of LEDs in a chip is the future technological trend of automotive headlights. It not only makes better performance possible, but also meets the space saving requirements.

Even though the market value and market volume of LED headlights keeps increasing, the penetration of LED headlight products in the exterior automotive market is still less than 15%. Therefore, there is a huge potential market for LED headlights, and the future of LED headlight is clear and brighter. In the future, advanced technologies will drive the development of automotive headlights market. Although the LED matrix headlights are already shown in the market, the adaptive driving beams are ruled out on high/low beam headlight by NHTSA. As new technologies are pumping up rapidly, and headlight performance will be factored by NHTSA and IIHS into car ratings starting at 2019. It is inevitable that a change of regulation will occur very soon.