The challenge was “how much imagination can we deliver?” How do we deliver technology and excitement at a realistic price point for our customers and consumers? With this technology, we’re trying to make the most exciting face of a vehicle that we can. It’s about delivering art in a functional manner.
The front end of a vehicle is changing. EVs do away with traditional grilles, opening up a larger area for us to use our creativity and hit our aerodynamic marks. A conventional vehicle front end is being replaced with a decorated panel with many levels of lights and sensors, and that challenges mainstream manufacturing methods.
We’re working with startups and traditional automakers to meet different needs. Some want continued brand recognition on the vehicle’s face; others haven’t built any brand recognition yet and are working with a clean slate.
With this new Magna technology, there are ways to communicate with anyone around the vehicle through a matrix display for lighting. The communication can be text or graphics. The panel will be able to show battery charge information for an electric vehicle or the car’s lock-and-unlock status. When we get to higher levels of autonomy, the panel will be used to communicate with cyclists or pedestrians.
For me, it’s about everyday inspiration. I used my wife Lacy, a small business owner, as inspiration for my work on Mezzo™ Panel Plus Featuring Morphing Surfaces. She’s not a car person, but she uses a car every day. She wants to be able to communicate with her car and rely on it to tell if it’s locked or unlocked.