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LEDs Move Forward in Japan

Japanese automakers and suppliers are catching on with the global trend to build head lights using light emitting diodes (LED).

An executive at Japanese supplier Ichikoh, expects LED headlamps to be introduced in 2006, perhaps even 2005. He notes that LEDs are still expensive, but price has begun to come down. “And because of their brightness, LEDs enhance safety.”

While LED headlamps are still further down the road, LED taillights are around the corner.

Ichikoh estimates that LED tail/rear combination lamps will represent 50 percent of taillamp sales in the next five years as LED costs come down. One cost-cutting measure will be to reduce the number of LEDs per lamp. For example, the taillamp for the Toyota Wish employs 28 LEDs. In the future this number will be reduced significantly.

Koito expects LED tail lamps to account for 10 percent of tail lamp sales in 2004, 80 percent in 2006 and 95 percent in 2008. LEDs consume less electricity and last longer than existing bulbs, says one Koito official.

“The price of LED chips is decreasing rapidly,” he says. Toyota models currently equipped with LED or light-emitting diode taillights include the Estima hybrid and Wish. Nissan models currently equipped with LED rear combination lamps include the Skyline (both sedan and coupe), Gloria and Tino hybrid. Koito is the LED tail lamp supplier of the Skyline (sedan) and Estima hybrid. Ichikoh is the supplier of the Skyline coupe, Gloria and Wish.

Meanwhile, high intensity discharge (HID) headlights also are becoming more mainstream. Koito expects HID headlamps to account for 45 percent of total headlamps within three years — that’s triple current levels. The company, which expects to sell 1.8 million units in fiscal 2002 (ending March 31, 2003), estimates its share of the Japanese HID headlamp market at 65 percent. Management expects HID headlamps to be adopted for all classes of cars including 660cc minis.

Ichikoh, the main supplier to Nissan and Fuji, is slightly more conservative. conservative.

Management predicts that HID penetration will reach 40 percent in five years. In the near future, an executive expects HID headlamps to be installed on such popular compact models as the March, Fit and Vitz.

For upper-grade Toyota models, he notes that HID headlamps are already standard equipment. In fiscal 2002 (ending March 31, 2003), the executive estimates that Ichikoh will sell 400,000 HID headlamp sets.

Nissan vehicles already equipped with HID headlights include all grades of the Cima (sold as the Infiniti Q45), Skyline (sedan and coupe) and Fairlady Z. Standard on some grades are the Gloria, Statea, Elgrand, Presage, Bassara and X-Trail. Optional include the Avenir, Bassara, Bluebird Sylphy, Cedric, Cefiro, Cube, Elgrand, Gloria, Liberty, March, Presage, Primera, Serena, Teana, Wingroad and X-Trail. On the new product front, Koito has developed an “adaptive” front lighting system, or AFS, in which resolution /brightness adjusts automatically depending on road and weather conditions and oncoming vehicles.

The new system features a multidirectional lighting system including conventional (forward directional) high beams for high-speed or rainy-overcast conditions, “swivel” type, low-beam headlamps better visibility when cornering, and (side-directional) cornering lamps to detect pedestrians.

The system was adopted by the remodeled Toyota Harrier SUV which went on sale in February. Koito says its system, unlike those adopted by several European carmakers, adjusts according to steering. Domestic competitor Ichikoh claims to have developed a similar AFS system, though did not indicate if/when the system will be commercialized.

Japan’s largest headlight maker

Japan capacity — 5.2 million headlamp and 4.5 million tail lamp sets (two units per set).
U.S. — 3.5 million headlamps and 2.5 million tail lamp sets
U.K. — 400,000 headlamp and 1 million tail lamp sets
Czech Republic — 160,000 headlamp and no tail lamp sets
Shangai — 500,000 headlamp and 500,000 tail lamp sets
Thailand — 300,000 headlamp and 300,000 tail lamp sets
South Korea — 300,000 headlamp and 1.5 million tail lamp sets
Taiwan — 500,000 headlamp and 400,000 tail lamp sets
India — 200,000 headlamp and 200,000 tail lamp sets

Total production: 11 million headlamp sets including 5.8 million overseas, and 10.9 million tail lamp sets including 6.4 million overseas

Japans Headlight Market

Koito claims to have a 52 percent share of front headlight unit sales (including 75 percent with Toyota). Koito is followed by Stanley at 25 percent, Ichikoh at 20 percent and imports at 3 percent.

Koito supplies the Toyota Altezza, Camry, Corolla, Celica, Harrier, Kluger V, Land Cruiser, Mark II, Soarer and Windom; Nissan Elgrand, Fairlady Z and Tiera; Honda Integra, Stream and S2000; Mazda Tribute and RX-8; Mitsubishi Dion and Pajero; Suzuki Wagon R; Fuji Forester; Daihatsu Move, Mira and Naked; and Isuzu Elf.

Models supplied by Ichikoh include the Toyota Rav 4, Vitz, Alphard, Avensis (in Europe) and Kijang (in Indonesia); Nissan Cefiro, March, Cube, Liberty, Wingroad, CefiroX-Trail; Fuji Forester, Imprezza and Pleo; and Daihatsu Max. It supplies the rear combination lamp for the Honda Fit. The company has no headlamp business with Mazda or Mitsubishi.

Of rear taillamp sales, Koito estimates its share at 45 percent (70 percent of Toyota’s business) followed by Ichikoh at 27 percent, Stanley at 16 percent and smaller makers (including Tokai Denso Corp. and Imasen Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.) at 12 percent.

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Sat. March 2nd, 2024

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