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Gentex Corporation

The First “Aspheric” Auto-Dimming Exterior Mirror

Gentex stands out for their sharp strategic vision combined with high-tech innovative capabilities.  A PACE Award winner in 1995 and 1997, the judges recognize them this year for their aspheric auto-dimming external mirrors developed for use on Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Europe.

While manufacturing auto-dimming aspheric mirrors drew upon existing electrochromic gel technologies,  it also required a series of innovations to let Gentex mate two pieces of asymmetric glass at tolerances under 1/100".   Gentex faced unacceptably low yields in January 1997, but their customer, Mercedes-Benz, wanted production of 20,000 units a month by September.  Gentex met these and other challenges, working with their suppliers to devise new molding techniques, developing sophisticated new in-house optical capabilities, and improving process yields.

Also impressive is the clarity of Gentex’s strategic vision, which reflects their substantial, focused R&D commitments.  Gentex can now supply auto-dimming units for all passenger car rear view mirror applications, interior and exterior, flat, convex, and aspheric.  They have increased product complexity while steadily reducing prices, deterring entry while expanding their overall market.  They have stuck to a mission of being the best at making mirrors, turning the 30-odd manufacturers of mirror modules from potential rivals into potential customers.  They are even working to speed the regulatory acceptance of aspheric mirrors in the US. The judges are proud to present Gentex with its third PACE Award.