Projecting the Impact of HUDs
By Chris Collier
How do you define the word “car” in 2022? As a result of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), autos are now ever-evolving and essentially computers on wheels. Electronic systems will account for half of the total price of a new car in 2030, according to Statista, a German information services company specializing in market and consumer data. The heads-up display (HUD) is bound to increase manufacturer costs and add additional complexities to the auto glass repair and replacement industry.
Eyes on the Road
HUDs project images on the windshield, displaying metrics for speed, speed limit, navigation information, infotainment information, turn signal engagement and safety system alerts like blind-spot monitoring. According to a late-2021 Kelley Blue Book report, more than 130 models spread across 30 car manufacturers offer HUDs. The technology is found primarily within the luxury segment, but many mainstream automakers
provide the systems, too.
Various aftermarket suppliers offer HUD systems, according to Kelley Blue Book. Boxlike units attachable to a vehicle’s dashboard, they project an image to the windshield and typically plug into any 12-volt power port or OBD2 (On-Board Diagnostic) port. Safelite says replacing a HUD windshield is pricier compared to an average replacement job. Delta Kits Inc., supplier of windshield repair and headlight restoration supplies and equipment, notes a complex process.
“Automakers encourage car owners with HUD windshields to replace them with original equipment (OE) when necessary,” per Delta Kits’ site. “The windshield is specially designed to correctly project the HUD image. Installing anything other than an OE replacement windshield may result in the HUD appearing as a double image, according to automakers.”
Jacques Navant is the technical director for Don’s Mobile Glass and The Calibration Station, both in Modesto, Calif. He’s a 27-year industry veteran and says he’s observed the rise of the HUD.
“I just got a 2021 GMC Acadia that has heads-up display, and I have to say I love it; it makes me a better driver,” Navant says. “I think it’s going to be deeply ingrained in everything we do as an auto glass [industry]. I would be shocked if it didn’t appear on every base model within the next three to four years.
The Acadia’s HUD features a collision-avoidance system, blind-spot detection and a speedometer. Navant says, “It’s so informative—your eyes don’t have to leave the road to see what’s going on with your vehicle and your surroundings.”
Lloyd’s Glass & Correct Calibration Services is headquartered in Pensacola, Fla. An estimated 10% of the cars the company operates on have HUDs. “[That number] is up significantly,” says owner/partner Ian Lintner, whose resume includes 20 years of auto glass experience. “However, heads-up displays have been around since the ‘80s. It’s not a new technology, but the information displayed on the windshields is significantly more complex, taking into account ADAS features.”
Victor Ng runs a one-person shop, Xpress Auto Glass of Jersey City, N.J., and has been in the industry since 1993. Ng averages 25 replacements per week and estimates seven involve HUDs with lane-departure warning systems. He says volume depends on location.
“In my area, there’s a lot of high-end vehicles,” Ng explains. “Range Rovers, Jaguars and Mercedes—that’s in my area. But I do service [regions] that have some lower-end vehicles also.”
Navant states that all HUDs currently on the market are projected, not interacting with the glass. But he says, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a 2023 Tesla with interactive glass.” As HUDs become commonplace in base-model autos, Navant says repair and replacement will require greater detail.
“Technicians have to be sharper, now more than ever,” Navant adds. “It’s going to be a game-changer for our industry. A huge burden falls on glass manufacturers because they will have to make sure that aftermarket parts are spot-on. I think it’s going to make everyone better; companies that underperform will not survive.”
Calibrators of the Carolinas is based in Rock Hill, S.C., and services the Charlotte, N.C., metropolitan area and segments of Columbia, S.C. Vice president of operations Kris Griffin entered the industry as a service apprentice at a BMW dealership in 2005. He says an estimated 20% to 30% of the ADAS vehicles he works on contain HUDs, many of which are installed in higher-end models.
“I don’t know if that’s going to be as big of a push in the AGRR business as we may think,” Griffin says. “Those systems are generally projectors mounted on the dashboard or a headliner. The biggest thing would be installation quality.”
Lintner seconds Griffin, saying, “Whenever a customer has a heads-up display or something with augmented reality (AR), it’s going to be immediately apparent if it’s a quality job or it’s not. The quality of the glass and the image they’re looking at will be affected if it’s not [installed] properly and the windshield is not up to standard. The quality
of aftermarket glass is going to become paramount. If it’s not up to snuff, the dealer will continue to take that market share from the aftermarket in terms of windshield replacements.”
Drivers’ eyes are constantly being drawn away from the road and directed toward new diversions. A recent report by Progressive Insurance listed three car technologies that can create distractions. HUD systems, along with hands-free bluetooth phone calls and in-vehicle infotainment systems, comprise the list. Distracted driving was blamed for 8.7%
of all car crash fatalities in 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Oliver Quack is a master auto glass technician at Lloyd’s Glass & Correct Calibration Services in Pensacola, Fla. The potential danger has been on his mind for years.
“Now that we’re applying augmented reality to the heads-up display, I can see it going either way,” Quack says. “The augmented reality gives us something moving in our view, which will hopefully keep us looking forward out the windshield. We all know of instances of people passing us, looking at their phones. If we can get people to look at the road, that’s a plus.”
Lee Swindell, owner of JJB Auto Glass in Atascadero, Calif., is approaching year 19 in the industry. He says, “I would find the heads-up display distracting for me. I don’t have a vehicle that has [one]; I do have ADAS features.”
Navant feels differently about the report.
“I couldn’t disagree more,” Navant says. “The difference between a wreck and a safe trip is keeping your eyes on the road. The less your eyes leave the road, and are more focused on the cockpit, the more likely you will get into an accident. Does it take getting used to? Oh, yeah.”
Heads up On Hud
Automotive manufacturers that offered HUDs in 2021 models
Nearly All Models
Half of Models
More than One
At Least Four Models
At Least One
Chris Collier is a contributing editor for AGRR magazine. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Facebook.
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