Ford and Detroit’s NextEnergy Seek Innovation with LED Challenge


Ford Motor Co. and Detroit-based NextEnergy will launch an automotive lighting challenge next month at the Michigan Advanced Lighting Conference in Lansing in an effort to encourage technological innovation among the state’s industry suppliers.

“Next Energy’s collaboration with Ford will encourage open innovation,” says Jean Redfield, president and CEO at NextEnergy. “While this technology challenge will solicit global solutions, we expect Michigan’s advanced lighting industry to be among the solution providers, driving significant economic activity in the state.”

The initiative was announced on Tuesday at a lighting exposition at Ford’s Product Development Center, where 30 suppliers and potential suppliers met to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the world of lighting.

“Ford is very interested in maintaining leadership with the use of innovative lighting for the benefit of our customers,” says Dean Stevenson, chief engineer at Ford Global Design Engineering.

The Dearborn-based auto manufacturer has been incorporating new lighting technology into its vehicles. The 2015 Ford F-150 has LED headlights, side view mirror lights, and cargo bed lights, while the 2015 Ford Mustang incorporated new lighting technology into brake lights, turn signals, and taillights.

The individual challenges will address key issues facing manufacturers at the conference Nov. 19. Categories include the featherweight challenge in which teams must develop the most light producing technology with the lowest weight; the design and manufacturing challenge that focuses on making existing technology suitable for cost-effective, high-volume production; the daylight LED category challenge where teams create daylight-simulating products; the structural lighting category, which requires teams to integrate LEDs and OEDs into interior and exterior vehicle components; and the life cycle challenge which seeks the best ‘green’ lighting designs.

Teams can win up to $40,000 for their designs — Michigan Economic Development Corp. and NextEnergy will award the money.

For more information about the challenge and the conference, visit

IN OTHER AUTO MANUFACTURING NEWS, Chrysler Group’s service, parts, and customer-care brand Mopar released a sneak peek of modified Chrysler, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat custom-designed vehicles that will be on display at this year’s SEMA show at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Nov. 4-7.

View the images here.