Made in China ambient lights are finding takers in the Indian aftermarket. Ashish Bhatia and Prateek Pardeshi look at their growing attraction.

The bug of customisation has bitten Indian vehicle owners for a long. So much so, that even a new vehicle on delivery instead of making its way to the owner’s parking lot finds itself being driven into the workshops offering modifications or enhancements. Here interior ambient lights have come to become a big rage with owners of even the top-of-the-line, fully-loaded premium Sports Utility Vehicles as a testimony. They prefer to roll down their fully air-conditioned vehicles to bask in the glory of unique interiors as they seek gratification from onlookers. Despite the growing calls for using local products available in the market, the plug-play solutions on offer from Chinese manufacturers seem to be a hit with enthusiasts. Even the high import duties and stringent customs checks have seemingly failed to deter their widespread distribution. On the whole, China leads the imports accounting for ~30 per cent of the total imports ahead of Germany (11 per cent) by a big margin. FY2022 also marked a 33 per cent increase in imports on a Year-over-Year (YoY) basis. Electricals and Electronics as a whole accounted for 14 per cent with interiors (non-electronics) at eight per cent.

Perhaps attributed to the quality of make and the fit and finish by local workshops here in India, there is enough and more uptake in the aftermarket. The Indian aftermarket is pegged at an estimated Rs.74,203 crore (USD 10 bn) and witnessed a steady 15 per cent growth in FY2022. This compared to Rs.64,524 crore (USD 8.7 bn) in the previous fiscal. Sunjay Kapur, President of the Auto Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA) has in the recent past hailed the contribution of the aftermarket to the record turnover registered by the sector in FY2022. The growing traction in vehicle sales backed by the increased movement of vehicles post-pandemic coupled with the surge in demand for used vehicles is expected to hold the aftermarket in good stead ahead too. It will be interesting to see the developments going forward as the Product Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme trickles in over the next half a decade. The market is also shaping up with the emergence of new sales channels like online e-tailing and Multi Branded Outlets (MOBOs) and the growing trend of Do It Yourself (DIY) boosting the demand for such lights.

Unique Selling Proposition

CARDI Tech, Guangzhou Cardi Auto Parts Co. Ltd. (Cardi) have been in the market for years. Right from the first generation of pipe-type LEDs where the finished product started as an aftermarket accessory to the newest generation of Cardi Symphony Streamer K4 ambient LEDs. The new generation light looks sleek enough and can be mistaken for an OEM finished product if not looked at closely. The K4 lights have gained traction in just a matter of around four months of going on sale. The lights can be installed on almost all types of vehicles having 12V batteries both in the PV and CV segments. Imagine a truck or tourers like the new Force URBANIA featuring the K4 or similar options. These ambient lights come with Bluetooth-enabled connectivity.

Sunjay J Kapur,
President, ACMA and Chairman,
Sona Comstar Ltd.

The smartphone app. called ‘LED Lamp’ is readily available on Android and iOS devices. This mobile app. helps to change patterns, and flow of lights, with nearly 64 colour tones to choose from depending upon customer preferences. These lights come with universal fitments and can be cut at any length depending on the chosen circumference and detailing. These are its Unique Selling Propositions (USPs). Moreover, the cardi lights also come with pieces ranging from four- to 22. A customer recently opted for a 22-piece set of lights for a top-of-the-line SUV model. Their use included illuminating the surface underneath the glove box, on the dashboard, door handles, bottle holder, within the speaker assembly, and under the seat to give a perspective. A complete ambient illumination minimises the darkness inside the cabin which is the larger objective beyond just aesthetics. Moreover, these lights are bright enough, with a glow effect enabling them to hold their own even in broad daylight. One can procure these at a ballpark figure of Rs.13,000 onwards depending upon the region of purchase. They come with a one-year replacement warranty like at DJ’s Automotive, Delhi. Imported from China, the life of the product is estimated at ~10,000 hours, informed Dheeraj Kumar of the company.



The installation of this light takes an estimated five to six hours. While there are enough use cases for DIY, it is not as simple as sticking a LED strip. The installation is a bit tricky. These lights are installed without tampering with the OE fit and finish of the wiring harness. They are connected to the headlight switch using clips. These can operate on various other electric utilities like the central locking system, interior lighting etc. Alternatively, a dedicated switch on the dashboard can govern these. The LED strips are sleek and easily sneak into the panel cavity. Each strip has a control circuit that goes onto the door trim. For installation of the bottle holder lights, one needs to drill a hole to hide it from direct exposure. This lends a passive fade-out effect. The ambient LEDs do take the interior aesthetics a notch higher for those looking at custom options with a warranty. ACI

Also read, How technology is transforming the auto industry


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