DETROIT — Visteon Automotive Systems plans to make one of the world's first transparent taillights.
The Dearborn, Mich.-based automotive supplier, a unit of Ford Motor Co., unveiled a new exterior taillight Feb. 23 during SAE '98 in Detroit. The part includes a fiber-optic laser light source that can be injection molded into an acrylic housing.
Visteon's goal is to produce a lighter-weight taillight that also can be integrated into the body's color, said Michael Marinelli, product engineer for Visteon's exterior systems division. The taillights can be shut off when not in use, leaving only a transparent sheet.
The lamps are only a half-inch wide, compared with typical taillights of more than 4 inches, and only about one-fifth-inch thick, Marinelli said.
The lights, which have been in development at Visteon for more than two years, are not in production yet. Cost of the laser technology could be a problem, Marinelli admitted. However, by using a one-step molding process, the manufacturing end of the cost cycle could be reduced, he said.
``No one else has tried doing it,'' said Marinelli, who added that the laser lights also could be used with polycarbonate-based front headlamps.
``The light in the front of the car could be blue or green or any other color, depending on the body. It has its styling advantages.''