Paolo Bortolan
President and CEO
OSRAM México
View from the Top

Led Lighting to Become Mainstay in Mexican-Made Cars

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 15:51

Q: What does the Osram lighting solution range for the automotive industry look like today?

A: Our portfolio includes halogen solutions, HID solutions, electronic solutions, and LED. In addition, we are able to create a solid partnership for future development with our clients. This allows our LED range, for example, to include finished products, modules, and discrete LEDs. This represents a family of products that stands completely apart from general lighting. Automotive lighting was made up of standardized products to be installed in the cars by the set makers, but now LED solutions are preferred.

Q: Osram says that half out of all cars produced today contain Osram LED lighting. How does this level compare in Mexico to the rest of the world?

A: The market is naturally different from more developed markets. The most common car in Mexico is the Nissan Tsuru, and no Osram LED light is present in that model. However, Mexican manufacturers are increasingly turning to LED solutions. We will see a boom in the near future, although I cannot say whether a model like the Tsuru will ever feature LED lighting. The real crux is that once a company like Osram offers an efficient solution combining design flexibility, efficiency, and security, then that solution quickly becomes in high demand. LED lighting offers all such aspects, as well as having an optimal design to create previously unseen internal space illumination. Just as ABS became widespread in the market after first only being seen in cars like Mercedes-Benz, LEDs are becoming more widespread.

Q: Do you foresee LED lighting becoming the most widespread lighting solution?

A: In the next ten years, LED will undoubtedly become more commonplace, but Osram still has very interesting solutions with other types of lighting. Halogen lamps are very common and highly efficient. We should not make the mistake of thinking that LED lighting is the solution to every single lighting problem in existence. Traditional lighting is of the highest standard today. LEDs main strength is that it grants design flexibility but it still remains a premium technology. We offer the product to the set makers who then have to understand how they can implement our products into theirs. It is then up to the OEMs to understand how they can adopt the proposal of the set maker.

Q: How is the local relationship between Osram and its suppliers evolving as more R&D is done in Mexico?

The partnership between Osram and set makers is definitely changing in Mexico due to R&D being brought to the country. Before this, we would just deliver products from our factory based on an international supply contract, but we can now get involved locally at the first stage of a project. How R&D develops in this country will depend on Mexico’s long-term engineering capacity. I am convinced that Mexico is able to provide a high level of engineering capable of competing with the US. We understand lighting technology development and we are supporting the local development of products with our lighting solutions. Changing an integral element to a car such as lighting requires advance planning as it necessitates a gradual phasing in and phasing out.

Q: What sort of growth has Mexico brought your automotive lighting division?

A: Lighting for the automotive industry is one of our highest growth areas in Mexico. Many automakers are now bringing R&D to their Mexican installations, which changes the approach we take in our relationship with OEM clients. OEMs are trying to develop new lighting approaches right here in Mexico, which means development is being driven by both the growing market and the quality of the local industry. Looking ahead, Osram is already working on the development for models that will be implemented in the next two to three years. Lighting is one of the most visible and impactful innovations in the vehicle park today, but the technology boom it is currently undergoing also makes for a very exciting sector.

Q: Do you foresee production for Osram automotive lighting taking place in Mexico?

A: We are currently supplied by our factories in the US and Europe, and we do not have any production in Mexico. Mexico is becoming increasingly important for Osram, but local production would require the investment of a completely new plant. We currently have three plants to supply our global automotive lighting operations, and despite the importance of Mexico as an automotive production hub, Osram’s automotive lighting does not have the economies of scale necessary to open a factory purely for automotive lighting production. The technology required for producing automotive lighting is much higher than for general lighting, requiring specific processes. The implications of a faulty light in an installed set are very high due to the expenses incurred to fix that problem. There is also the risk of stopping the production line to correct a problem. This means that the quality for automotive lighting must be perfect and have zero defects. This requires fully automatized production at the absolute highest standards, making a new plant very expensive.