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BMW Laser Headlights to Debut at Nürburgring in June

April 11, 2014

Car enthusiasts have known about BMW’s laser headlights for a while, and they will finally get a glimpse of how the said technology will be used at the Nürburgring 24-hour race in June.

According to Motor Authority, the German carmaker will be using its laser light technology in racing for the first time. BMW’s four Z3 GT3 racers, which were equipped with the technology, have finished qualifying for the race last weekend and will therefore showcase the cutting-edge headlights on track two months from now.

The laser headlights were first unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show as a feature on the BMW i8 concept. BMW developed the technology with the help of Osram, a German lighting manufacturer. In the fall, the lights will premiere on a production car, specifically a plug-in hybrid.

BMW touts its laser lights as more advantageous compared to other light sources, such as LED technology, especially when it comes to efficiency, safety and aesthetics.

According to the German automaker, laser lights provide greater light intensity, about 10 times as much as other light sources like xenon or halogen. These also offer a higher beam range, up to 600 meters (or double the range afforded by conventional light sources like LEDs). The nature of the light itself is what makes more light intensity and higher beam range possible: laser light is created to have a single wavelength as opposed to a full-color range.

What BMW’s laser light technology does is turn blue laser beams into white light. The beams from the three laser diodes will be directed by special lenses onto a fluorescent phosphorous substance, which will transform the beams into intense white light that is not too bright to the human eye.

The laser lights are also remarkably efficient. The light-emitting surface area of the laser diode is 100 times smaller compared to that of an LED, which is about one square millimeter. Because it requires a much smaller reflector to illuminate, the laser lights take up a small space and therefore add significantly less weight to the vehicle. In addition, the laser lights prove more efficient by reducing energy consumption by about 30 percent.

However, what makes BMW’s laser lights most impressive is that while these do afford the driver better visibility through intense lighting, these will not blind other drivers or even pedestrians. The technology comes with a High Beam Assistant which will prevent vehicles and people ahead of the car from being dazzled by the laser lights. The high beam will always be directed on the left side and a masking function will shield oncoming traffic from the beam of light.

The 2015 BMW i8 is the first ever production model to be sold with the laser lights, which will be offered as an option. The i8 has a starting price of $135,925 (inclusive of destination) and will be competition to the Porsche 911 and Audi R8. What sets the i8 apart from its aforementioned rivals is its notable fuel economy. The sports car can get more than 50 mpg combined due to the BMW TwinPower Turbo 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder gas engine as well as the BMW eDrive technology.

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