General Motors says it has found great success in remanufacturing collision-damaged headlamps as part of its efforts to implement sustainable practices and a circular economy model in which old materials find new life through remanufacturing, recycling, and reuse.
When a vehicle is involved in a collision, the headlamp is one of the most commonly damaged components — second only to bumpers, GM said in a Jan. 11 news release.
“While many components that make up a headlamp can be salvageable, due to insurance company preferences on claims, headlamp assemblies are often replaced with less expensive aftermarket parts during collision repair, sending many usable parts to landfills,” GM said.
In 2017, a team made up of employees within GM’s departments of Customer Care and Aftersales, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, and Product Engineering began developing a headlamp remanufacturing process with supplier Llink Technologies.
The process replaces the headlamp housing and lens, reuses internal components such as integrated circuit chips, materials, and fans, and tests each assembly to ensure it meets OEM standards and specifications. GM told Repairer Driven News the housings and lenses are always replaced during the remanufacturing process. All internal components that pass a “stringent set of tests” are re-used.
Llink Technologies can reuse 70–90% of each headlamp housing that is returned, and any non-usable parts such as the lens, housing, or damaged materials are recycled. All of the packaging, including the boxes and foam, is reused for shipping the remanufactured headlamps back to customers.
In 2021, the first remanufactured headlamp program launched with the 2016–2019 model year Chevrolet Silverado. GM said the program was enthusiastically received by customers and insurers to the point that every remanufactured headlamp ended up in customer vehicles. That included 1,500 vehicles in 2021 and another 8,000 in 2022.
Remanufactured headlamps are currently available for select 2016-2019 Silverado models and select 2018-2020 Equinox models. GM says they will be available on additional vehicles in the future.
GM told RDN it will expand its remanufacturing program based on its success with headlamps to include other parts and commodities, but declined to share the specifics at this time.
The GM-remanufactured headlamps are produced to meet OEM specifications and quality requirements and are verified as such. They’re offered at a lower cost and come with a two-year GM Parts warranty, according to GM.
The headlamps cost 40% less than GM OEM headlamps compared to aftermarket replacement prices of 25% below OEM and 15% more than GM’s remanufactured headlamps, according to GM. All GM headlamps are sold exclusively through the OEM’s dealer network.
When asked about how the remanufactured headlamps compare to aftermarket parts, GM told RDN, “The aftermarket parts are not validated to OE specifications. We do not test aftermarket alternatives; however, because we are the OE, we are the only one that can meet the OE specification.”
The GM and Llink Technologies teams initially set out to reclaim 25% of reusable components in the headlamp. That goal was exceeded. Remanufacturing the cores in the current program can eliminate 95% of headlamp waste from going to landfills, GM said.
“With the initial program launch alone, we’ve salvaged and repurposed headlamp components that would fill more than 100 semi-truck trailers,” said Jeff Goulet, Llink Technologies CEO, in the release. “I’m proud of the work our team does to help GM meet the needs of its customers and support sustainability efforts.”
According to Llink Technologies, up to 80% less energy is consumed by remanufacturing compared to aftermarket manufacturing.
“We set out to do something new in the industry that was good for business, and that helped drive us toward a more sustainable future,” said Tod Stump, GM global remanufacturing manager, in the release. “Since 2021, more than 13,000 headlamps have been remanufactured and there are plans to expand the program. We’re excited to be the first to create a headlamp remanufacturing program that can be a model for other programs in our industry. It’s a great example of how we are bringing our cultural goals — being bold, looking ahead, and innovating now — to life.”
For more information on GM’s sustainability efforts, visit gmsustainability.com.
Featured image: A Llink Technologies worker performs final tests on a remanufactured GM lighting assembly to confirm that GM and FMVSS108 lighting requirements are met. (Provided by GM)
The quality team at Llink Technologies inspects a new headlamp lens for approval and final assembly. (Provided by GM)
A recycled GM headlamp undergoes robotic plasma treatment for superior lens/housing adhesion. (Provided by GM)