Drivers make numerous critical decisions every day. More often than not, these decisions are made in split seconds, so it’s paramount that both vehicle lighting and wiper blades are in peak operating condition, providing drivers a clear view at all times. Advancement in technology in both of these categories continues to provide more sales options for jobbers. “Styling, appearance, brand image, and the look of the vehicle are the main factors driving the changes in automotive lighting,” explains Osram Sylvania global senior marketing director David Hulick. “Lighting is one of the most dominant design elements for brand differentiation. With new technologies such as laser, OLED, and advancements in LED output/efficiency, doors are being opened for automotive stylists to bring their imaginations to life. Lighting will get smarter as U.S. regulations catch up to other regions, such as Europe. “Lighting technology advances will give car makers the ability to offer consumers new levels of performance, features, and durability,” he continues. “LED headlights offer many features to benefit automakers and consumers. For example, they are resistant to shock and vibration, and their small size enables lower profiles and flexibility in design.” “LED lighting is replacing halogen and HID lighting more and more, with its longer service life, reduction in weight, and lower power consumption. With the growing trend of intelligent lighting systems, only LEDs can actually be programmed to dynamically react to all driving and weather conditions. These features, along with their small size, give LED lighting the ability to operate in clusters for unique designs for maximum flexibility,” explains Hella’s Alfredo De La Vega. “Headlamp designs are becoming more compact and lower in profile as the lighting technology transitions from halogen and HID to LED,” adds Philips Automotive senior marketing manager Ann-Marie Hines. “As a result, headlights are becoming more complex, which is driving up the cost. When an LED-based lamp needs to be replaced, you have to replace the entire lamp. Unlike halogen and HID lighting, you cannot just replace the LED light source. However, LED headlamps are more robust and designed to last much longer than either halogen or HID.” “Piped LED is a growing trend in headlamp design, but is more of a fashion statement. LEDs are becoming standard equipment, and technology has greatly improved over the years making performance almost equal to that of HID,” adds Justin MacLauchlan of PIAA. “By 2025, LED is projected to have 40% infiltration at headlight and 60% at stop/tail light. Halogen is expected to be flat for the following five years driven by countries like India, Russia, Brazil, Thailand and Indonesia. HID lighting has reached its peak this year and is forecasted to decline over the next several years as LED adoption increases,” explains Attila Kurthy, GE Lighting’s global product manager, automotive “While LED replacement interior lights are increasingly popular, advancement in the light output of LEDs has increased dramatically over the last few years, allowing for enough light to safely illuminate the front of vehicles as headlights and fog lights. Other lights on vehicles, such as brake, turn, park, daytime running lights, and more are growing more quickly into LED systems as well,” adds Sylvania Automotive Lighting marketing manager Brian Noble. “Our emphasis, and the trend among many auto parts distributors, is on delivering innovative, premium replacement lighting technologies that help dramatically improve the consumer’s driving visibility. The average age of drivers continues to rise, and they’re driving more miles at night and in inclement conditions than ever before,” explains Michael McKee, director, global visibility, at Federal-Mogul. “The ability to upgrade to better-than-OE headlamps at an affordable price is very appealing to consumers. The key, of course, is making them aware that these upgrade opportunities exist.” “It is not only about the light source, but the components, such as electronics and cameras. Jobbers and drivers can expect more sophisticated vehicles, which may require a different set of tools and knowledge to repair plus a longer replacement rate,” points out Hella’s De La Vega. Traditional lighting like halogen and HID, in addition to the latest technologies like LED, will all continue to be important options as automotive manufacturers look to continue to deliver good/better/best options for consumers. According to a 2012 market report, McKinsey & Company predicts a sharp increase in LED lighting adoption in the automotive category by the end of the decade. By 2020, researchers expect to see LED share nearly triple to 34% of the overall automotive lighting market. This forecast is based on the anticipated growth in LED headlight adoption by OEMs during the next five years. “In the near future, North American jobbers will see more LED-based lamp designs. However, the LED-based designs should last the life of the vehicle under expected operating conditions. OLED-based tail lamps are being considered for vehicle introduction towards the end of this decade. Government regulations are currently restricting the introduction of laser-based and more advanced LED-based headlamp designs,” adds Hines. The RF Series and LP Series of PIAA LED lamps provide brilliant illumination with lower power consumption than conventional LED and halogen lamps. They light the road with bright white colour that is clearly visible to oncoming traffic, providing an added measure of driving safety typical of LED systems available today. PIAA’s new LED bulbs allow replacement of halogen fog light bulbs with a PIAA LED Bulb Conversion Kit. This LED lighting bulb upgrade is available in two colour options: Xenon White 6000K or Ion Yellow 2800K. “Designed for a quick and easy install, they plug directly in place of stock bulbs. The low power draw means these LED performance bulbs use up to 75% less energy than the bulbs they will be replacing.” Sylvania Automotive Lighting has expanded the Sylvania SilverStar zXe series with xenon-fuelled halogen fog lights and a line of zXe HID bulb replacements, slated to hit store shelves in late September. SilverStar zXe headlights are the whitest colour temperature product in the high performance series line-up, giving enthusiasts the style they desire whether they have halogen or HID lights. There are also expansions to the Sylvania Zevo LED Lighting product lines this year. The line includes mini bulbs for interior and exterior applications that cover the majority of applications, a unique fog daytime running light, 7-inch round sealed beam replacements, DRL pipe and pixel designs, a 4-inch fog light and an LED strip kit suitable for interior applications. Philips recently introduced its new X-tremeVision LED Fog Lamp for halogen fog bulb replacement. It delivers a bright, white 6000K light that matches perfectly with the colour of xenon and LED headlights and Philips CrystalVision ultra upgrade headlight bulbs. Philips X-tremeVision LED fog lights offer easy plug-and-play replacement for H8, H11, and H16 halogen fog bulbs and are designed to deliver a 12-year lifetime. Hella has introduced new 90mm LED Module lights that provide more illumination and safety with no maintenance, due to passive cooling. The new Rallye 4000 X LED auxiliary light from Hella features an innovative double reflector and high-power performance LEDs that ensure optimal visibility and active road safety in any driving situation. Wagner has expanded coverage of three premium capsule technologies: Wagner NightDefense, TruView Plus, and BriteLite headlamps and fog lamps. Wagner NightDefense capsules feature an exclusive tri-colour/tri-zone coating that disperses light up to 40% brighter and projects a beam pattern that is up to 60 feet longer than standard OEM lamps. This unique technology provides a yellow light at the top view to be non-glaring into oncoming traffic, while the whiter wider light makes it easier to read signs on the side of the road. Wagner TruView Plus capsules feature a xenon gas charge to last longer, offer the purest, whitest light among replacement capsules and provide the look of HID lamps. Wagner BriteLite capsules are equipped with xenon gas and high-powered low-beam filaments; these lighting capsules deliver 80% more light to the road and create a beam pattern that is 120 feet longer than standard halogen headlamps. GE’s Night Hawk Xenon products deliver better visibility and illumination than standard halogen headlamps. The expanded line, which now includes D3 and D4, fits a variety of domestic and import vehicles, from Chevrolet and Ford to Volkswagen and Porsche. The GE Auto Bulb Finder App helps customers find automotive parts suppliers with a regional search function. Available for download by Apple iPhone and Android users, customers simply enter their car info and select the product needed, to be presented with a number of replacement lamp solutions. “Better lighting makes night-time driving safer and more comfortable, and upgrade headlight bulbs make lighting better,” says Hines. “So while our message is very basic, it serves as a strong selling tool: ‘Put more light on the road, and you’ll put more cash in your pocket.’ “This applies to jobbers as well as their service shop customers,” Hines continues. “Vehicle lighting is one of the most under-performed of maintenance services. Just like wiper blades and tires, headlights wear out and get dim over time. To make matters worse, drivers become accustomed to the reduced lighting and fail to mention it to their technician when they bring their car in for service. Jobbers should be aware that proper lighting maintenance with upgrade headlight bulbs can create a valuable opportunity for extra shop profits and help boost driver safety at the same time.” “Jobbers should be aware that from our research, we have found that consumers are extremely receptive to the idea that better headlights help them see further down-road, which in turn helps them feel safer and more secure when driving at night,” adds Noble. “Asking a simple question such as ‘Do you want to see better when driving at night?’ can help consumers understand the benefits of upgrading their headlights. If there is an object on the road, high-performance headlights can help you react sooner. Any step above a basic headlight replacement helps to create a better experience for the driver, a trusted piece of advice from the jobber, and higher sales overall.” Awareness is the number-one barrier to increased sales of premium lighting products. Most drivers have been in situations when they wished they had better driving visibility; so presenting them with an opportunity to avoid those dangers and uncomfortable situations is a great way to gain a sale and a longer-term customer. Research has shown that the best way to build awareness is at the point of sale, with a high-impact display that clearly communicates product benefits. This approach can convince many consumers to upgrade their headlamps immediately rather than wait until one of their existing lamps burns out.
Wiper Technology Vehicle wiper blades have also experienced a number of technological advances, as well as many design challenges posed by advanced OE model designs. Nearly 70% of new vehicle models come equipped with a beam or hybrid blade. These are the latest designs in wipers. The aerodynamic spoilers on these blades utilize the wind to press the blade onto the windshield to maximize contact with the glass. Beam blades feature a one-piece structure that provides a uniform wipe across the entire length of the wiper blade. “There has been a strong shift toward flat or ‘beam’ blades at the OE level, and we continue to see strong growth for this technology in the aftermarket,” explains Mike McKee, global product director, Anco Wiper Blades, Federal-Mogul Corp. Anco’s Transform Hybrid Wiper blade integrates the aerodynamic features of a beam-style wiper with the evenly distributed pressure points of a conventional structure for exceptional wipe performance. Anco Transform is a replacement blade for vehicles that came equipped with hybrid technology, or an upgrade for vehicles that utilize a J hook design. Anco’s Contour Beam blade and Profile beam blade are premium all-season performance blades utilizing advanced technology for all-season performance. They feature an infinite amount of pressure points for better blade-to-windshield contact. Patented Articulated Contact Technology permits unrestricted flexing for more uniform pressure distribution and improved conformance to today’s curved windshields. PIAA windshield wiper blades are made with silicone rubber, to ensure greater visibility by coating the windshield with silicone to promote continuous water beading in inclement weather. “The silicone rubber is also twice as durable as traditional rubber, allowing them to perform better over a longer period of time. Plus, the Aero Vogue and Super Silicone blades are refillable with our wiper refills,” adds MacLauchlin. Trico Force and Trico Onyx are both high-wind beam blades with a patented swept-wing spoiler that slices through wind speeds in excess of 220 kph (135 mph) caused by cross winds, buffeting truck winds and general traffic turbulence. The VorTec aerofoil converts wind force for maximum windshield contact and the robust superstructure provides durable all-weather performance. Trico NeoForm beam wiper blades provide original factory quality with the value-added performance of Teflon wiper blade surface protector for a smoother wipe and longer life. An exclusive dual-point coupler helps eliminate streaking, and the memory curve steel beam provides uniform pressure. Hella provides jointless single-piece wiper blades that deliver a clean wipe at every point. Their nanotechnology graphite-coated rubber blades provide smooth and quiet operation with clear visibility. Like bulbs and many other auto parts, wiper blades age and decrease in performance with time and need to be replaced from time to time. Certainly better products are extending overall car life, so jobbers, manufacturers, and all those involved in the distribution chain must direct efforts to educate consumers in proper replacement times, regular inspections, and preventive maintenance.