Jun 10, 2011 10:26 Asia/Seoul Time Zone
Gentex Rear Camera Display Mirrors Exceed Proposed U.S. NHTSA Requirements
  • - Studies Reveal That Mirror-Borne Displays Are More Effective Than In-Dash Displays in Helping to Detect and Avoid Backover Accidents
ZEELAND, MI--(Korea Newswire) June 10, 2011 -- Gentex Corporation (NASDAQ: GNTX), the leading supplier of automatic-dimming rearview mirrors and camera-based lighting-assist features, today provided an update on the capabilities of the Company's Rear Camera Display (RCD) Mirrors, which exceed certain requirements of the December 7, 2010, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) promulgated related to the Kids Transportation Safety Act (KTSA). In addition, recent independent studies reveal that mirror-borne displays are more effective in helping drivers detect and avoid backover accidents, when compared with drivers using in-dash displays.*

The Kids Transportation Safety Act is a law intended to expand the field-of-view behind vehicles in order to prevent pedestrian injuries and deaths from backover accidents. The December 7, 2010, NPRM requires that global automakers install backup cameras and related video displays in all new vehicles in the U.S. by September 2014 (with a phase-in of certain percentages of vehicles before then). The NPRM provides certain requirements for those backup cameras and displays, including that the display must turn “on” in two seconds or less from the time that the vehicle is put in the reverse gear, and that the luminance/brightness of the display must be at least 500 cd/m2.

Gentex‘s mirror-integrated display provides customers with immediate compliance with the December 7 NPRM. The Company’s RCD Mirrors respond in two seconds or less, and typically have a daytime luminance in the range of 1,200 to 1,500 cd/m2, as specified by the majority of the Company's customers. Gentex has a wide range of technology offerings within its RCD product portfolio that are intended to meet diverse customer requirements, and currently manufactures RCD Mirrors as bright as 4,000 cd/m2.

“We believe that Gentex RCD Mirrors are faster, brighter and are more cost-effective than other displays available today, offering our customers ‘immediate compliance’ with the KTSA,” said Enoch Jen, Gentex Senior Vice President. "At 4,000 cd/m2, the displays are more than 300 percent brighter than any current in-dash display.

“We are urging our customers to consider our RCD Mirrors as part of their strategy for meeting the requirements of the NHTSA rule, which is expected to be finalized by the end of 2011,” said Jen.

Gentex RCD Mirrors are currently offered on 62 vehicle models at nine different automakers. The Company shipped 1.25 million RCD Mirrors in calendar 2010, and currently expects that RCD Mirror unit shipments will increase by approximately 50 percent for the first six months of 2011, compared with the same period in 2010, based on IHS Automotive's mid-April forecast for automotive light vehicle production.

Additionally, recent independent studies, including one published by SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) in 2011*, indicate that displays located in the interior rearview mirror can be significantly more effective than other display locations at helping the driver to detect and avoid backover accidents.

“The number of backover incidences were significantly fewer when the drivers surveyed utilized a mirror-borne display compared with in-dash displays,” said Jen. “The mirror appears to be a safer location for the display, likely because it is in the driver‘s natural line-of-sight, can be viewed while maintaining a ’heads-up' posture, and is in a logical, intuitive and ergonomic location that the driver is already accustomed to viewing regularly and frequently -- particularly when backing up.”

Gentex‘s RCD Mirror, launched in 2007, consists of a bright, high-resolution liquid crystal display (LCD) that works with an automaker-specified video camera to provide a view directly behind the vehicle while backing up. When the vehicle is shifted into “reverse,” a display appears automatically within two seconds through the auto-dimming mirror’s reflective surface. The display disappears when the vehicle is shifted into any other gear, a capability made possible utilizing Gentex's “transflective” coating and lighting techniques.

Over the past several years, Gentex has continually improved its rearview mirror video display technology, by enhancing its size and improving its brightness, resolution and display capabilities, and reducing its power consumption. It‘s also a cost-effective location because it’s “plug and play” -- and allows the automaker to avoid the significant expense of retooling each vehicle's instrument panel.

The Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act was signed into law on February 28, 2008. At that time, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation was charged with writing a regulation instructing global automakers on the requirements that new vehicles in the U.S. will need to meet in order to comply with the KTSA.

On December 7, 2010, NHTSA issued its NPRM for the KTSA. In that NPRM, NHTSA stated that all new vehicles under 10,000 lbs. in the United States will be required to have backup camera-based systems by September 2014. The phase-in schedule indicated was 10 percent of cars/33 percent of trucks in the U.S. by September 2012, 40 percent of cars/67 percent of trucks by September 2013 and 100 percent of all vehicles by September 2014. That proposed rule was subject to public comment with the stated intention for it to be finalized by February 28, 2011.

On March 2, 2011, an update was published in the Federal Register, summarizing a February 25, 2011, letter from the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to Congress indicating that NHTSA would not meet the February 28, 2011, deadline, and that they would re-open the public comment period for 45 days (until April 18, 2011). In addition, it was announced that NHTSA would hold a public meeting in Washington to exchange ideas on the backover issue, and that NHTSA would also host a technical workshop to address questions regarding the proposed testing procedure and other technical items. The letter also indicated that NHTSA would publish the final rule by December 31, 2011.

Also published on March 2 were a number of revisions to the NPRM, including a change to the phase-in period on the regulation for trucks so that it aligned with the schedule for cars (10 percent by September 2012, 40 percent by September 2013 and 100 percent by September 2014). The technical workshop was held on March 11 and the public hearing was held on March 23, 2011. No further information is available at this time.

Safe Harbor Statement

This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act, as amended, that are based on management‘s beliefs, assumptions, current expectations, estimates and projections about the global automotive industry, the economy, the ability to control and leverage fixed manufacturing overhead costs, unit shipment and net sales growth rates, the ability to control E,R&D and S,G&A expenses, gross margins and the Company itself. Words like “anticipates,” “believes,” “confident,” “estimates,” “expects,” “forecast,” “hopes,” “likely,” “plans,” “projects,” “optimistic,” and “should,” and variations of such words and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. These statements do not guarantee future performance and involve certain risks, uncertainties, and assumptions that are difficult to predict with regard to timing, expense, likelihood and degree of occurrence. These risks include, without limitation, employment and general economic conditions, worldwide automotive production, the maintenance of the Company’s market share, the ability to achieve purchasing cost reductions, customer inventory management, supplier part shortages, competitive pricing pressures, currency fluctuations, interest rates, equity prices, the financial strength/stability of the Company‘s customers (including their Tier 1 suppliers), supply chain disruptions, impact of natural disasters on supply chain and vehicle production, potential sale of OEM business segments or suppliers, potential customer (including their Tier 1 suppliers) bankruptcies, the mix of products purchased by customers, the ability to continue to make product innovations, the market for Rear Camera Display Mirrors and the success of those products, the success of certain other products (e.g. SmartBeam®), and other risks identified in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Therefore, actual results and outcomes may materially differ from what is expressed or forecasted. Furthermore, the Company undertakes no obligation to update, amend, or clarify forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

About the Company

Founded in 1974, Gentex Corporation (NASDAQ: GNTX) is the leading supplier of automatic-dimming rearview mirrors and camera-based driver assist systems to the global automotive industry, and provides smoke alarms and signaling devices to the North American fire protection market. Based in Zeeland, Michigan, the international Company develops, manufactures and markets interior and exterior automatic-dimming automotive rearview mirrors that utilize proprietary electrochromic technology to dim in proportion to the amount of headlight glare from trailing vehicle headlamps. More than half of the Company‘s interior mirrors are sold with advanced electronic features, and more than 98 percent of the Company’s revenues are derived from the sale of auto-dimming mirrors to nearly every major automaker in the world.

*Llaneras, Robert E., Neurauter, M. Lucas & Green, Charles A. “Factors Moderating the Effectiveness of Rear Vision Systems,” 2011-01-0549, SAE International, 2011.

*NHTSA Vehicle Testing & Research Center, 2009 – Staged Obstacle Event Outcomes Study, “Backover Crash Avoidance Technologies,” Preliminary Regulatory Impact Analysis, November 2010.
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