Magna Breakthrough Lighting turns any body panel into a light

Automotive supplier Magna on Thursday unveiled lighting hardware that can be integrated with vehicle body panels. Dubbed Breakthrough Lighting, it will be ready for production in 2023, Magna said in a press release.

Magna is initially showing Breakthrough Lighting on a thermoplastic liftgate dubbed the “Litgate.” However, the same hardware can be applied to other vehicle panels as long as they’re made from similar thermoplastic material, Magna said.

The demonstration setup has lighting elements roughly where you’d normally find conventional taillights, but they remain hidden until illuminated. Customers can choose from “an extensive color palette” for these lights, Magna said. 

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Breakthrough Lighting seems to be intended at least partially as a design feature. The integrated lighting could be used for decorative purposes, Magna noted. Not having to design dedicated lighting elements might also create more freedom for designers.

Magna also mentioned “refining communication between the user, the vehicle, and its surroundings.” Using exterior lights to flash signals to other vehicles and pedestrians has been discussed as a way to improve safety, particularly with autonomous vehicles. Without human drivers to make eye contact or use hand signals, those vehicles may need an alternate ways to communicate with other road users.

Homologating this technology in the U.S. would have been difficult in the past, but regulatory changes may have created an opening. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approved adaptive matrix LED headlights earlier this year, finally catching up to other markets. With fewer restrictions, the new regulations could allow for other new lighting technologies as well.

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