GM Should Lead In Exterior Lighting
Why isn't 20 year old technology standard by now in all luxury vehicles?
May 13, 2010
By: Mark Bono
High-Intensity Discharge( HID) headlights, also known as Xenon headlights, are a type of headlamp used in some models of cars, typically luxury cars. They were first introduced back in 1991 on the BMW 7-Series. Xenon headlamps produce more light without sacrificing power consumption or lifespan. They are actually known to last longer then the typical halogen setup having a lifespan of 2,000 hours versus 450 to 1,000 hours for halogens. The brighter luminance produced by Xenon's enable drivers to see further down the road and react quicker and more accurately to any obstruction in their way. They also provide a wide angle of light, enabling drivers to see what is off to the side of the road to see possible objects like deer that could dart out onto the road. In my experience using them, they are able to light the road at twilight better then halogens. The only disadvantages to Xenon's are glare to oncoming vehicles and their cost. Though the glare issue can be solved if drivers don't act like deer in headlights when they see a vehicle with Xenon lights. The cost is offset by the longevity of Xenon's, reducing how often the buyer will have replace them.
This technology is approaching a market life of 20 years now, and it is just starting to become standard equipment on high-end luxury vehicles. This--to me--is amazing. Headlights become a major safety feature when driving at night, and a lot of other safety features are already standard on the mainstream vehicles (ABS, stability control, TPMS, etc). You would think something such as a major technological advancement in headlight designs would have become the standard headlight on luxury vehicles and trickled down to the mainstream vehicles as optional equipment. While we have some mainstream vehicles offering Xenon headlights, it is still not a prevalent option on vehicles.
This is a great opportunity for GM to make inroads into reviving Cadillac and Buick as relevant luxury marques. As of now, Xenon's are only standard on higher trims of a luxury vehicle or on high-end luxury vehicles like the 7-Series and S-Class. To my complete and utter surprise, the exception is that the Buick Enclave has them standard across the board. Not even the CTS or SRX--which costs roughly the same as the Enclave--can say that. What is up with that GM? The Enclave really reinforces my point and opinion that GM from top to bottom of Buick's and Cadillac's lineup should make Xenon's standard equipment. Why can the Enclave have them standard and not the CTS and SRX? If they want to take it a step further, make adaptive-Xenon headlights standard. GM should also expand the use of the Escalade Platinum's LED headlamps as optional equipment on the XTS and possibly the next generation Cadillac CTS. This will help Cadillac be seen as a company that can be innovative and live up to its "Mark of Leadership" tagline. I feel that Cadillac has not been very innovative this past decade. A lot of the features that Cadillac invented have popped back up in other luxury marques--such as night vision in BMW's 5 and 7-Series. That is a Cadillac innovation, yet it is banished from the Cadillac lineup today. With Cadillac's obsession over catching up to BMW and Mercedes, it seems like they forgot to innovate along the way.
GM also needs to make Xenon's optional equipment on their mainstream vehicles. I would want vehicles from the Malibu up to have them as optional equipment and have projectors optional on Cruze and smaller. And integrate each brands signature lighting design into the Xenon lights. GM has already done a good job putting Cadillac's "light pipes" in their new models, now GM needs to be consistent with doing the same for the other brands. Take the Camaro's halo's and integrate them into the Xenon's for the Malibu, Impala, Tahoe, Equinox, etc. Do the same for the projectors on the Cruze, Aveo, and Spark to be consistent. Make sure every Buick has the blue ring and the eyebrow the Regal has( pictured above). Create a signature lighting theme for GMC. Instead of having a lighting element go around the headlights in the usual circle pattern, have LED's encircle the headlights in a square pattern in a distinctive color since blue is overused and DOT regulations won't allow for GMC's signature red color.
GM, it is time to take the lead in exterior lighting and make Xenon headlights standard equipment on your luxury vehicles from Buick to Cadillac and expand each brands signature lighting design to other models. You already have your foot in the door with the Enclave, Regal, Camaro, and Cadillac's light pipes, now just completely open that door and expand those features to the rest of the brands.