28 Aug 2007
Audi is to bring full LED headlamp units, featuring Lumileds’ Luxeon LEDs, to the road in its “brand icon” R8.
Audi's sporty new R8 model includes the first ever all-LED headlamp option, thanks primarily to a special permit from the EU.
The German car maker has been given permission to use LED front lights before official regulations covering the technology come into force in Europe, allowing it to move into series production ahead of schedule.
Legislation regulating LED headlamps is due to come into force in Europe in 2008 or later, and in the intervening period Audi had to apply to the EU "Comission for the Adaptation of Technical Progress" for official clearance to use its new lamps.
Audi said that the LED headlamps would be three times as expensive as their xenon equivalent.
The headlamps' maker, Automotive Lighting, says that it uses 24 Osram Advanced Power Top LEDs for the daytime running lights that run along the bottom edge of the complete unit.
The dipped beam is provided by a pair of four-chip arrays containing Philips Lumileds' Luxeon chips, coupled with a “free-form” reflector. A similar but separate arrangement also provides the main beam.
A further three two-chip arrays, coupled with a high-performance lens system, provide additional light around the main spot of the dipped beam.
Lumileds says that its LEDs, which are in a new package design for this application, will last the same length of time as the vehicle itself.
The LEDs will provide “a colour that is similar to daylight for enhanced contrast and more pleasant visual perception,” according to Audi.
The new headlamps are not available just yet though. A spokesman for Audi said that the new lamps would appear “towards the end of the year”, even with the head start that the EU has given.
The use of LED headlamps in the R8 is clearly adding further to what is already a high-prestige model; Audi considers the R8 its “brand icon”.
However, with only 1500 R8s sold globally in the first half of 2007, and an asking price of $109,000 given for the car’s introduction to the US market in September, the new headlamps are not going to be shifting vast numbers of extra LEDs, no matter how popular the option proves.