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Where is the market for automotive lighting heading? – Dr. Dirk Linzmeier, CEO, OSRAM Continental

Where is the market for automotive lighting heading? 

The market for automotive lighting has been in a constant state of change. While headlamps were once installed mainly for better sight – for the driver as well as all other road users – today‘s lighting solutions are entering a new stage. They are merged with electronics and connected to a vehicle‘s board systems, making them adaptive and intelligent. For future driving scenarios light will become a differentiation technology. 

Your declared goal is to shape the future of mobility lighting with seamless connectivity. How can we imagine the new mobility’s demands and your solutions? 

Our mobility needs and expectations are generally changing. The car is increasingly evolving from purely a means of transportation to a sustainable self-driving data center on wheels – available 24/7 and digitally connected to its environment. In the vehicles of tomorrow visible and invisible light will take on essential functions powered by an innovative lighting system architecture. Topics, that will become relevant are for example digital headlamps systems for more safety, exterior surround lighting for visualization and communication as well as sensor fusion for dynamic high-resolution lighting.  

These features depend heavily on the development of digital lighting systems that enable ultra-fast and precise light distribution. At OSRAM Continental we focus on how detailed models of the vehicle environment and the movement of the vehicle are obtained by intelligent sensor fusion algorithms and align our products accordingly. Technical solutions like SMARTRIX HD systems with a large number of individually controllable LED pixels open up numerous new possibilities for efficient lighting functions.  

In addition, automotive lighting will provide new external communication possibilities and create a personalized atmosphere inside. Using light projections, the vehicle’s near-field surroundings can become the future canvas for mobility – allowing interactive communication and unlocking digital services. From logo projections on the vehicle‘s sides to 360° dynamic around-the-car content, OSRAM Continental is exploiting the potential for personalization, perception and safety. 

What makes Osram Continental a decisive player in terms of future lighting? 

We are a global joint venture that benefits from many years of experience in the key technologies on both sides. OSRAM is the market leader in automotive lighting and Continental is an expert in electronics and software. Equipped with outstanding technological competence as well as the spirit and agility of a startup, we develop innovative lighting solutions that will take automotive lighting to a new level – for a connected, safer, more personalized and more sustainable mobility of the future.  

With our joined forces we are able to drive forward innovations by working closely with the automotive industry to integrate lighting, sensor technology and electronics seamlessly in a single application. This allows us to advance new intelligent light functions such as the combination of lighting and sensor technology in a module or light-based communication between the driver, other road users and the vehicle’s surroundings.  

Another advantage: We are a globally acting company with 16 locations worldwide and a production site as well as a research and development team in all central regions. OSRAM Continental can look back on a very exciting first year and the positive market response is a great endorsement of our approach to shaping the future of mobility lighting. 

When two companies merge to form a joint venture this always has an impact on the culture of the companies. How did you deal with that?  

From the very beginning, we have attached great importance to corporate culture. OSRAM Continental is based on the idea that 1+1 is more than 2: By combining skills and know-how we can create extraordinary solutions with a real added value for our customers. This idea also describes the culture we are striving for. We believe in the expertise of our employees and their skills and we empower, nurture and connect them through leadership. That’s why successful leadership is one of our top priorities.  

Can you explain that in more detail? Why is leadership so important in your eyes?   

Leadership is the key to achieve outstanding performance and sustainable success. Especially since the world of business has changed significantly in times of digitization, new leaders must be more creative, adaptable and driven than ever before. In our modern world, you can’t rely on permanence. Everything has become fast-paced, connected and volatile. Although this change has brought numerous benefits with it, adapting to this new pace isn’t always easy. I started to ask myself, how a business leader can overcome these emerging challenges and stay on top of this new world.  

And what conclusion have you come to?  

I believe that our fast-changing business environment requires leaders with a flexible, adaptable mindset, a strong team spirit and a clear vision. So, embrace change, make continuous learning a part of your culture, connect and collaborate with your teams, customers and partners and let creativity flow. If you are ready to do so and you don’t see disruptive change as a threat, but quite the opposite, you will be able to take full advantage of the opportunities of this exciting new world.  

Furthermore, in a fast-paced business world, you need to constantly develop new ideas and solutions to survive in international competition. For this, you need to think outside the box and motivate your team to break out of old patterns. For me boundaries of the single departments of the company therefore don’t matter. We have to stop thinking in “silos”. Working with colleagues from completely different or new areas unleashes new energies. This is why we work connected across multiple continents and we believe, that building up business networks based on collaboration and trust not only makes the best out of our existing connections, it is also very important to win new customers and projects.  

What also sets us apart from others, is that at OSRAM Continental we clearly defined Leadership Principles, for example “Transparent communication”. In all associate surveys I have seen so far, „communication” is an important topic. I believe it is very difficult, if not almost impossible, to communicate in a way that all messages are received equally well. The problem lies on both sides – the sender and the receiver. However, it is essential that we make every effort to ensure that our team understands the „why,” or the background and motivation of why we take certain decisions and actions. What is also very important is “Trust”. For me, trust is the foundation of every collaboration, and having mutual trust within my team is imperative. A lack of trust in an organization will quickly lead to an unengaged and demotivated workforce. As a leader, you have to build an environment of trust.  

What can we expect from OSRAM Continental in the upcoming years? 

We are currently working on a wide range of products. An important research and development area is high definition headlights, which are able to adapt their beam in real-time to changing traffic situations or, for example, weather conditions. The high resolution ensures maximum luminous efficiency on the road, while the beam’s adaption contributes to minimum interference with other traffic participants and pedestrians. In addition, we are working on solutions for low power consumption as well as interior and rear lights. Furthermore, we are developing solutions for symbol projection to, for example, enable communication via light for autonomous driving scenarios. There are lots of innovations in our funnel. Stay tuned!

About OSRAM Continental: 

OSRAM Continental GmbH is a 50/50 joint venture of leading technology companies OSRAM and Continental. With its world headquarters in Munich, Germany, OSRAM Continental combines modern lighting technologies with electronics and software to offer a broad portfolio of intelligent, innovative lighting solutions for the global automotive industry. OSRAM Continental employs approximately 1,500 people at 16 locations in 9 countries.  For more information, please visit

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