And there was us thinking those pretty LEDs at the front end of recent Audis (and others) where just a bit of bling.
It transpires that the new V10 version of the Audi R8 is to be the first car in the world to be fitted with LED headlights. So what, you may say? An advantage or two, it transpires.
Headlining the advantages, unsurprisingly in these Co2 obsessed times, is a reduction in Co2 use. Not a huge amount, admittedly, but when car makers are being given targets to hit, every bit helps.
But it’s in the type and efficiency of light that the real benefits start to become apparent. Your average xenon lights emit something like 80 lumens (units of light) per watt, compared to around 20 for a household bulb. But these LED lights shove out over 100 lumens per watt. Not only that, but the light they emit is much closer to ordinary daylight than xenons, and has a much better spread.
Dr Wolfgang Huhn, Head of the Light and Visibility Department at Audi (now there’s a title!) is the man responsible for this. But it gets better. What’s worse than some moron flying your way on a back road with his mains on, blinding you to what’s coming, whilst merrily plodding on his way? Drives me mad. But Dr Huhn reckons this will soon be a thing of the past:
“We’re striving to create intelligent headlights and taillights which think and anticipate in the interest of enhancing a driver’s safety and comfort. For example, there are already high-beam headlights in pre-series development which will allow drivers to navigate roads at night without temporarily blinding oncoming drivers. This is made possible by a variable distribution of light: An electronic system continuously calculates the distance to any approaching vehicles to ensure that the road ahead is ideally illuminated at all times – without irritating oncoming drivers.”
Which is very good news. I have been known to moan frequently about the new LED lights just being Audi bling, but I take it all back. Seems they are a great idea, and once we get lumbered with daylight running lights from our Lords and Masters in the EU in 2011, at least they’ll be a lot more efficient and intelligent.