“Car headlights used to serve the purpose of seeing in the dark. Now their purpose is making yourself visible”. These are the words used by John O’Hara, chairman of Magna Lighting, the lighting division of the Canadian multinational Magna International, to explain the growing importance that headlights, and lighting in general, are acquiring in the automotive sector from a styling point of view. He started from precisely these words to illustrate the reasons why the multinational undertaking from Toronto has decided to buy the Turin company Olsa, a totally Italian company with around 2,500 employees and still, in a certain sense, “family run”. The operation is costing 230 million dollars and will enable Magna to make use of the engineering heritage developed by Olsa over seventy years of activity in design and production of lights in the automotive sector and develop its own growth further in this field.
Automotive lights are actually evolving rapidly and have become strategic, both for safety reasons and, especially, for styling reasons. Using technology such as Laser, Matrix LED and OLED, designers can indulge themselves in defining completely original shapes and lighting signatures which make a car increasingly more recognisable by day as well as by night. Since they are ever more complex objects, though, lights also require an enormous amount of electronics. And this is where Magna comes in, as a real leader on the software level as well. “We are developing revolutionary technologies.” O’Hara explains further, “We are testing new lighting methods. We will soon launch curved illuminated panels, which will allow us to design completely different lights from the current ones. They will require smaller surfaces and will give much more freedom to the styling departments when defining the design of cars. They will be usable for external lighting, of course, but also for internal illumination. They will highly contribute to making the car a different object from the one we know today. And, with the added value of Olsa, we aim to become a leader in this sector, which is such an important one.”