Lexus LS 600h L

Audi R8
Audi and Lexus get jiggy wit LEDs

While LED taillight technology has found its way into a wide range of sedans, wagons, sports cars and SUVs/crossovers, LED headlights are just now starting to find their way into the automotive sector. When used in taillights, LEDs provide better packaging efficiency, faster response times and longer life than traditional bulbs. More efficient packaging with LED technology also allows designers greater liberty in creating unique headlight designs for vehicles.

Toyota was the first to enter the LED headlight fray with the announcement that its Lexus LS 600h L luxury sedan would feature LED headlights. This is an addition to the vehicle's hybrid powertrain, 30GB HDD navigation system, radar-based cruise control, Intuitive Park Assist and countless other features.

And just recently, VAG announced that its Audi R8 mid-engined sports coupe would also feature LED technology. The LEDs are used for all headlight functions including dipped beam, main beam, daytime running lights and turn signal indicators. Audi also uses LEDs for the taillights and to provide indirect light for the engine which can be seen under glass.

But for all the advantages of the technology, Visteon has demonstrated that LED technology does have its drawbacks when used in automotive applications. Heat buildup can be a problem as well as the close proximity of the LEDs to the engine compartment which presents even more heat-related challenges. Furthermore, LEDs require precise electronic control to function properly.

Despite the disadvantages – which are sure to be resolved in the coming years –LED lighting in automobiles is the future. Likely within the next few years, we’ll start to see the technology trickle down to more mainstream automobiles as new technology often does.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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