At the recently concluded 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Ford GT and the Acura NSX stood out from the pack. But the head-turning supercars had something in common with most of the other vehicles that were present at Cobo Center, and this has something to do with lighting. The GT, NSX and many others that were shown at the famed auto event featured LED lighting. Upcoming production models and concept vehicles alike came equipped with LEDs (light-emitting diodes).
As a recent Detroit News report pointed out, gone are the days when LED technology were found exclusively on luxury models. These days, the use of LEDs are prevalent. Even mass-market models feature these. The ubiquity of the technology is signaling a shift in the auto industry, and not only in terms of lighting—it is also changing the way vehicles are being designed.
Many carmakers opt for LEDs as the automotive lighting of choice, and for good reasons. Not only are these more affordable now, but they also allow more flexibility. LED lights are smaller than HIDs (high-density discharge lamps), and can be customized to accommodate various designs. As a result, these also give car designers more room for creativity, paving the way for a styling revolution of sorts.
LEDs are no longer just an automotive lighting option—it has become a useful tool for the improvement of automotive lighting and vehicle design. Luxury carmakers in particular are using LEDs to make a statement through matrix beam headlights, which illuminates with jewel-like features.
With more vehicle manufacturers embracing LED technology, it is possible that the use of more advanced lighting technology will not be that far behind. The use of LED lights brings the industry one step closer to widely adopting technologies that allow automotive lighting to do more.
One example of advanced automotive lighting technologies is the Hella LED Matrix Beam headlamp system found in the Audi A8. The system comes with a camera that detects illumination from front and oncoming vehicles alike. Based on what the camera sees, the system adjusts the high-beam lights so it provides illumination without blinding other road users.
Then there is the multi-beam LED headlight technology featured in the 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class (see above). Just like the Audi A8’s Hella system, this one also adjusts illumination, though depending on traffic conditions. When there are other vehicles on the road, the system directs light away from oncoming motorists. When there are no other vehicles on the road, the system allows the headlights to illuminate full force.
Photo credit: media.daimler.com