A poster on the Ford Focus RS Club forum—and first reported by Jalopnik—has discovered something mighty interesting in the form of a patent application filed on June 25: Ford may be working on vehicle body panels and elements that light up.
The way it would appear to work is that panels would be stratified either as separate pieces or via injection molding, with inner and outers sandwiching a layer that, in the words of the application, would be “configured to luminesce in response to light excitation.” The excitement would come in the form of one or more lighting elements (likely LED) situated at or around the perimeter of the luminescent layer. This layer could incorporate individual excitable particles either alone or en masse, or consist of an entire substrate.
Ford explains in the patent that it envisions such tech could be used for “decorative and/or functional lighting,” which we take to mean it could conceivably be used for accent lamps in bumpers, the center high-mounted brake light, or decorative ambient lighting that, as shown in the figure above (no. 24), wraps around the cockpit of an open convertible. Or to light up full panels in different colors, VW Golf Harlequin–style. Or to spell out “CAMEROS ARE 4 CHUMPZ” across the rear bumper.
No matter what the technology is intended to do, there are no doubt several regulatory hurdles that would need to be cleared before such a thing reached production—U.S. vehicle regs are actually fairly hostile toward new lighting types, as shown by the fact that we can’t get the matrix LED and laser headlights now spreading across European carmakers’ lineups—but the branding and stylistic possibilities are tantalizing. For more, you can read the patent application for yourself right here.