- - Thursday, March 8, 2012

DETROIT New techniques in lighting design are adding to the dramatic presence of luxury cars, while also providing real-world functional benefits. The all-new 2013 Cadillac XTS luxury sedan contains more than 20 separate light sources that “greet” the driver in a carefully choreographed sequence when the key fob is pressed.

The new XTS, launching in the second quarter, includes LEDs embedded in the door handles, Cadillac-signature vertical LEDs in the headlights and taillights and ambient lighting in and around the car’s perimeter. In addition to extending the car’s design signature, the lighting provides convenience and helps provide additional security to drivers in parking lots at night.

Cadillac designers took advantage of consistent advances in LED technology to use lighting to convey drama and space alongside functional benefits.

“The new LED offerings now provide a new palette of color to bring more dramatic lighting effects that have never been available before,” said Christos Roustemis, Cadillac interior designer.

On the inside, cooler blue lights accent the car’s controls and instrumentation while warmer lights highlight passenger areas.

“We sketched each phase of the process to carefully choreograph how every important area inside and outside of the vehicle would come up and fade back down, similar to a production crew lighting a theater stage,” Roustemis said.

The palette of colors also needed to harmonize with the interior colors as well as light emanating from the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) main LCD screen and instrument panel. The task was to make the ambient lighting enhance the experience and minimize distraction.

Creation of dramatic effects and pleasing spaces has long been a trademark of lighting design, said Rosemarie Allaire, a California-based architectural lighting designer. She says advances in LED lighting have opened the way to new possibilities in lighting design.

“In cars, just as in architecture, lighting defines how we feel about a space. It is both artistry and user experience,” Allaire said. “For me, the beauty is in the blends, how you layer the affects, mix the light sources, and how you package it into the final product.”

The XTS lighting choreography is timed to the fraction of a second by the car’s central control system, and is cued by various triggers, such as the key fob, the doors and ignition switch. The car’s exterior lighting brightens the perimeter of the car to provide an added level of security and make the car easier to locate.

Cadillac first used a vertical lighting signature as an exterior design theme in 1948. In Cadillac’s Art & Science design language that has defined Cadillac for the last dozen years, designers use thin, vertical LED “light pipes” in both the front and rear corners of the car.