US: Ford and NextEnergy challenge hints at automaker’s illumination image

The US automaker and NextEnergy have just issued a challenge for automotive suppliers to bring forth new and advanced lighting products for the car industry.

But, even as the $40,000 prize of the contest seems like a raindrop in the ocean, the underlying message here is that Ford wants to see who’s capable of joining the company in its quest to become a leader in automotive lighting. The contest is also a good place to start for suppliers wanting to nab big contracts with Ford or even get on NextEnergy’s radar. The latter is a Detroit-based accelerator of advanced energy technologies that has been recently mulling the establishment of the Detroit area as a center of expertise and innovation in the field of automotive lighting.

The technology innovation contest includes an interesting challenge: the “featherweight” section that rewards the supplier that harnesses the greatest amount of light with the lowest weight. Another section has the parts makers challenged to lower production costs for existing lighting technology to ensure greater integration into high-volume production.

For example, Ford wants to come up with interior ceiling LEDs (light-emitting diode light) that can better emulate daylight. And the green aspect is also covered, as one area of research is for recyclable lighting technology, including biodegradable components.