Vehicular Lighting Equipment

SIC 3647

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This category includes establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing vehicular lighting equipment. Establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing sealed-beam lamps are classified in SIC 3641: Electric Light Bulbs and Tubes.

The world has come a long way since the first driver of a horseless carriage attached two kerosene lamps to his vehicle to light his way at night. Aftermarket electric lighting systems were available for vehicles as early as the beginning of the nineteenth century, and acetylene headlamps started to appear on cars around 1905. Electric lights did not become standard equipment until Cadillac featured them on their cars in 1912. Lights for airplanes were also an afterthought and first appeared several years after the Wright Brothers flew their aircraft at Kitty Hawk. Vehicular lighting is standard equipment on aircraft, automobiles, boats, bikes, motorcycles, and locomotives, and it is even used on roller skates and baby buggies in the first decade of the 2000s. Vehicular lights that flash, flicker, and give signals became an integral part of daily life in the early twenty-first century.

Companies that manufacture vehicular lighting equipment generally do so for a wide range of vehicles, including automobiles, airplanes, trains, boats, bicycles, motorcycles, and amusement rides. In addition, companies frequently collaborate on lighting projects, often on a contractor-subcontractor basis. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the vehicular lighting equipment industry shipped goods valued at $2.8 billion in 2008, down from $3.28 in 2007 and $3 billion in the early years of the first decade of the 2000s. The number of industry employees declined from 15,169 in the early years of the decade to 13,659 in 2007. The leading product shipments for this industry that year were automotive light fixtures ($1.1 billion), vehicular lighting equipment ($450 million), and motor-vehicular lighting equipment ($276 million).

The decline in the U.S. auto industry as a whole negatively affected the vehicular lighting equipment manufacturing industry in the late 2000s, and in 2009 shipments dropped to just over $2 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. However, the industry was looking for a recovery by 2010. According to a report by The Freedonia Group, the overall lighting fixture market was expected to grow 4.8 percent annually, with motor vehicle lighting representing the fastest growing sector.

The leading companies in the vehicular lighting equipment industry in the early 2010s included the large and diversified Honeywell International, based in Morristown, New Jersey, which had overall sales of $33.3 billion in all divisions in 2010, and auto parts maker Federal-Mogul Corp. of Southfield, Michigan, which recorded annual revenues of $6.2 billion.

The United States imported more automotive parts and accessories, including vehicular lighting equipment, than it exported at the end of the first decade of the 2000s, with imports worth $1.7 billion and exports valued at $700 million. This trade imbalance was primarily due to increased shipments from Japan and was expected to continue. Some U.S. companies were turning to Mexico to outsource manufacturing in an effort to decrease costs and remain viable. Others were exploring joint ventures with foreign manufacturers and acquiring overseas manufacturing facilities.

Industry leaders were looking at electronic data transfer to decrease production time, as well as such innovations as Truck-Lite's electronic cooling system, to keep the industry technologically current well into the early years of the twenty-first century. In the middle of the first decade of the 2000s, the industry introduced "smart" headlights that adjusted themselves according to the car's direction. By 2010 some vehicles were equipped with SmartBeam, a technology that justauto.com said "uses a miniature camera-on-a-chip combined with algorithmic decision making to automatically turn a vehicle's high beams on and off according to surrounding traffic conditions." Another trend was the move toward using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in vehicular lighting, as opposed to high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps. LED lights could last up to 10 times longer and were considered more energy-efficient than HID lamps.

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News and information about Vehicular Lighting Equipment

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