Hella has received major orders from German premium manufacturers for highly integrated front phygital shields. The large-area modules for the vehicle front serve on the one hand as a stalk-forming element and on the other hand integrate functionalities for automated driving.
Lighting and multicoloring makes the complex modules for the vehicle front a brand-differentiating design element of e-vehicles. In addition, the Front Phygital Shields feature integrated sensors, heating and radar transmission.
The customer orders cover a total of eight different electric vehicle series and have a total volume of over €1 billion. Series production is scheduled to start from mid-2025. Development and production will take place at Hella's center of excellence for body lighting in Ljubljana, Slovenia. A variant specifically for the Chinese automotive market is being manufactured at one of Hella's lighting plants in China.
Front Phygital Shields are among the most technologically sophisticated products in Hella's entire lighting portfolio. Depending on customer specifications, they are available in different levels of integration, for example with different lighting functionalities. For example, depending on customer requirements, the main and signal light functions can be integrated, or LEDs can be used to illuminate the front of the vehicle, to additionally highlight brand-typical design elements, or to generate coming home/leaving home animations. Taking into account different color variations of the Front Phygital Shields as well as illuminated and non-illuminated versions, a total of over 140 different designs are realized within the scope of customer projects.
At the same time, the front phygital shields ensure the implementation of automated driving functions, such as automatic distance control (ACC). For this purpose, the Front Phygital Shields act as a radar-transparent cover for the radar sensors integrated in the front of the vehicle to protect them from the effects of weather and dirt. At the same time, the heating function, which is also integrated, makes the radar sensors a weather-independent technology for environmental perception.
Front Phygital Shields are composed of up to eight different foil and plastic layers, some of which are also made from sustainably recycled materials. For one of the customer projects, which covers five different vehicle series, Hella is also using polyurethane plastics for the first time anywhere in the company.
They give the front phygital shields a self-healing effect: because by means of the polyurethanes used, they can return to their original state after minor damage or deformation caused by weather or stone chips, for example, under the influence of heat such as solar radiation.
»With our highly integrated front phygital shields, we are addressing two key trend topics that are shaping the future of mobility: Electromobility and automated driving,« says Yves Andres, Managing Director Lighting at Hella.
»For one thing, electric vehicles do away with the classic radiator grille. This gives us completely new possibilities and degrees of freedom to set the scene for the front of the vehicle. With our front technologies, we provide the style-defining element with which car manufacturers can stand out in the market and give electromobility a face. Secondly, front phygital shields are a key technology for automated driving, as more and more sensors are being installed in the front of vehicles. For these to function reliably, they must be protected both mechanically and against environmental influences. We ensure this with our front phygital shields and supply a complete system from a single source.«