Luxury Car Brands Upgrade LED Designs to Gain Competitive Edge

Luxury car brands including BMW, Benz and Audi are using more advanced lighting technologies in their cars, such as LED headlights, smart high beams, and infrared-assisted lights to give them a better technological edge and justify their hefty price tag, according to a recent Bloomberg report. 

For luxury car makers facing intense margin competition, advanced lighting technology can help carmakers expand their lineups and mass-market vehicles improve in quality, said August Joas, head of the global automotive practice at consultant Oliver Wyman in Munich. “New headlight technologies are innovations that are easily noticed.”

Audi’s latest headlamp technology, Matrix LED, is far more advanced than similar systems by BMW and Mercedes, according to the Bloomberg report. The light links to computer-controlled LEDs with a camera, which can spare as many as eight vehicles from glare from high beams. The system combines 50 independently controlled LEDs to create nearly 1 billion different light variations, and can adjust for traffic situations such as city, highway driving, and incoming cars and bicycles. 

The new headlamp technology has been introduced in Germany in mid-November 2013 as a EUR 2,400 (US$ 3,200) option on its EUR 74,500 A8 executive sedan. The feature has not been approved in the U.S., yet. LED packages in BMW cost EUR 2,500. 

Mercedes is also close in the competition presenting a similar option coined Active Multibeam LED next year. The luxury-auto brand new S-class this year also underwent a complete lighting renovation by abandoning old-fashioned light bulbs and relying completely on LEDs. The car is also equipped with six cameras and six radars that support the safety system.

The report also noted automotive lighting demands will be spurred by wealthy drivers, who are more willing to pay up for advanced lights that can improve safety. Nighttime car accidents tend to be more severe, 24 percent of German auto crashes were in the night leading to far more severe injuries and deaths, compared to 20 percent in daylight, even though fewer cars are on the road, according to the country’s statistics office. About 70 percent of A8 customers in Germany order the top lighting option when they buy the car, said Audi.

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