Share This Page

Inexpensive, distinctive bling proliferates on new car models

| Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, 8:06 p.m.

DETROIT — Headlights, grilles and other doodads are stepping up and popping out on cars.

Car bling is proliferating, from daytime running lights that go up the hood of the new Cadillac ATS, to a wide, bold grille on the Ford Fusion, to engraving within the lamps of the new Corvette and Ford Transit.

It is inexpensive but distinctive, providing automotive eye candy that can even boost gas mileage or improve safety. Bling isn't new, but advancements in technology and design are allowing automakers to do more of it and move it from luxury cars into the mainstream.

“You've got form and function with the beauty,” says IHS Automotive analyst Rebecca Lindland.

The adornments are on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which opens to the public Jan. 19:

Mom never advised looking into lights, but peering into the lamps of certain vehicles offers some aesthetic rewards: Tiny engravings are appearing inside, like figures inside a snow globe.

Headlights in the splashy new Corvette feature the brand's crossed-flag logo, and the utilitarian Ford Transit offers Ford's Blue Oval logo contained in a seven-sided shape.

Likewise, the new Jeep Grand Cherokee features a vintage miniature Jeep silhouette and the phrase, “Since 1941,” referring to the year Jeeps began rolling out.

IHS Automotive's Lindland says it's intriguing that designers are “laying this kind of jewelry in just that small spot” — in the process attracting buyers and providing recognition on the road.

Distinctive lights abound, but a prime example graces the front of the new Cadillac ATS, a sport sedan.

The car's daytime running lights go up the top of the fender along the hood line. They help contribute to an overall design that is angular and edgy.

Those lights are helping Cadillac set itself apart from competitors, says Consumer Reports lead car tester Jake Fisher.

Osram Automotive supplies lighting components for the ATS and other Cadillacs. David Hulick, the company's global marketing director of solid state lighting, says the ATS benefits from hidden LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, which offer an “intense, white appearance” that can't be duplicated with traditional bulbs.

Hulick says getting more out of illumination was the impetus behind the first automotive use of LEDs in exterior lighting: a mid-1990s Ford Thunderbird. He says that model used “super-red LEDs with a neon look” — something that also “couldn't be achieved with traditional technology.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.