Hella, Visteon and Valeo are taking different technical approaches as each tries to become Europe's dominant supplier of adaptive front lighting systems.
Adaptive front lighting systems - or swiveling headlamps - automatically turn headlamp beams toward bends in the road for better nighttime visibility.
Swiveling headlamps date to the 1960s when the Citroen DS sedan introduced the concept to the public. The DS used a system engineered by Valeo that mechanically linked a secondary pair of headlamps to the steering rack. Technical limitations scuttled the idea.
The lighting components on a car are governed by stringent international standards, called ECE in Europe.
But changes in legislation are due in the spring that will allow swiveling front lighting on low-beam light settings.
A further change to European law is expected in 2005 to allow swiveling front lighting for high beams, giving manufacturers more time to assure swiveling lights won't blind oncoming drivers.
Both Hella KG Hueck & Co. of Germany and Valeo SA of France have developed adaptive front lighting for halogen and xenon systems. Both suppliers are concentrating on modular products that incorporate the motors, sensors and control unit, and work with both halogen and xenon bulb types.