December 19, 2016
Excerpt from Driving Vision News
The car lighting industry in America is very much not what it was in the past. For a very long time, the North American approach to vehicle lighting was to treat it as a commodity. Headlamps of standard size, shape, and construction were required on all vehicles for over four decades. Even after that constraint was struck down in the early 1980s, car lights continued to be viewed as a commodity; most research and development focused on cost reduction rather than technical advancement, and North American makers tended to be followers, doing “me-too” work with the least costly fruits of European innovation. That meant American drivers didn’t enjoy the same level or pace of technical and technological improvement in their car lights, but it also meant European and Asian automakers viewed themselves, with fair justification, as being out of the league of the American vehicle lighting industry.
That assessment is out of date; that’s not how it is any more. There are a great many American tier-1 suppliers putting in an enormous amount of skill, talent, passion, and work—and putting out a great variety of innovative, performant car lights. Not only lamps as good as any put out by the well-known European and Asian big-name tier-1s (though there’s plenty of that), but also best-in-class lamps befitting the highest-end automobiles from any maker in the world. And the American cultural talent for cost control hasn’t been discarded along the way. OEMs, no matter where in the world they might be, who don’t take a hard look at these less-famous American suppliers are seriously missing out.
Two such suppliers are Flex-N-Gate and Myotek. Flex-N-Gate make every kind of light found on the outside of a car, with a full palette of technology and technique. They sell an enormous quantity of lights to FCA, Ford, GM, and Nissan (and they get awards for how well they do it); they’re in aggressive project cooperation with automakers outside the NAFTA region, they’ve got working LED ADB prototypes just waiting for American regulatory approval, and they’ve got astounding and affordable design innovations available on a right-now basis.
Myotek is a remarkably agile company with a thoroughly (disruptively!) modern structure. They churn out rapid innovation in small lamps with an especial focus on uncommonly great LED fog lamps, and OEMs recognize their outstanding lamps and expert mastery of 21st-century supply chain logistics with awards for quality and ease of cooperation.
The American sector of the vehicle lighting world is too big to fit in one report, so there will be more of them. For now, this forthcoming DVN report shines light on some less-known American lighting suppliers to give the world’s OEMs an opportunity to replace obsolete old assumptions with enticing new information. It focuses on Flex-N-Gate and Myotek, with ample presentation of other shining lights of the American industry. Facts, figures, and photos are presented, and there are interviews with the key engineers, designers, and executives who make the magic happen.