Car body lighting: Light is the new chrome


Body lighting has long since ceased to be a question of pure functionality. For many car manufacturers and also car owners, individualised aesthetics are becoming increasingly relevant – or, as Dr Frank Huber, Managing Director at HELLA responsible for the Lighting Division, puts it : "Light is the new chrome."

One trend is currently dominating the field of vehicle lighting like hardly any other: lighting solutions are not only used for safety, but increasingly also to give vehicle bodies a distinctive design. Automobile manufacturers from both the premium and series segments set striking visual accents with “carpets” of light, illuminated manufacturer logos or interactive radiator grille lighting. This gives the body lighting an important role as a differentiating feature. Such a development is also fuelled by the rapid advance of electrification: As e-cars no longer require classic engine cooling, car designers now have more scope to use the vehicle’s signature on the front of the car as the quintessential brand face.

Radiator grilles become works of art made of light

HELLA positioned itself in the growth area of car body lighting early on. Back in mid-2016 we opened a new Competence Centre for Body Lighting in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Since then we have been able to continuously expand our know-how and work on pioneering lighting solutions that renowned automotive brands rely on. Four examples:


1. We were significantly involved in the development of the illuminated radiator grille for the BMW X6.


2. A German premium manufacturer commissioned us to integrate a designer character line into the radiator grille of an electric vehicle.


3. At HELLA we developed dynamic lighting for the radiator grille of another electric car made by a European series manufacturer. For this purpose 130 LEDs are integrated into a thick-walled Edge Light light guide to create a crystal effect.


4. Our HELLA light developers have also designed a panel more than one metre wide that will be used in the front area of a European e-vehicle brand. The special challenge here is : the high surface quality and radar permeability to enable implementation of the automatic distance control (ACC) function.

An illuminated brand logo is also one of the options possible for the creation of striking body lighting.

Illuminated logos in the body area provide a striking look. Source: HELLA

HELLA designs the body lighting of tomorrow

Whether it’s illuminated displays, LED light strips or illuminated logos – as a system integrator, we have all the necessary core competences at our fingertips to design the body lighting of tomorrow. These range from distinctive expertise in lighting technology through electronics and software know-how for control and system integration right up to the ability to produce even larger plastic parts with high-quality surfaces. Added to this are the many years of experience in the production of complex radar covers (radome, abbreviation for radar dome). These protect the front radar sensors from the weather and from dirt and are usually located behind the car manufacturer emblem. This also makes them a central element of the body lighting.


Even though we have already achieved a great deal in the field of body lighting, we will continue to expand and sustainably strengthen our position worldwide. Because our comprehensive competences in car body lighting are a real unique selling point in the market – from which our customers and partners also benefit.