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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.

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By czarchazm on 10/26/2006 3:24:05 PM , Rating: 2
These LEDs are pretty neat. I had the fortune of playing with one of these, and they are really bright. In fact, they come packaged with a warning label not to look at the LED for too long when lit , or you might sustain vision damage.

RE: Neat
By BladeVenom on 10/26/2006 3:32:38 PM , Rating: 5
That sounds wonderful for oncomming traffic.

RE: Neat
By das mod on 10/26/2006 3:42:49 PM , Rating: 2
but when driving, aren't your eyes supposed to be on the road ???
or do you drive by merely STARING DIRECTLY onto incoming traffic's headlights ???

RE: Neat
By yacoub on 10/26/2006 3:48:21 PM , Rating: 2
not only that but they should be even more focused in their light beam than halogen or even xenon beams can be.

RE: Neat
By HaZaRd2K6 on 10/26/2006 4:38:02 PM , Rating: 4
Ever had someone driving towards you with their high beams on? Yeah, you're not looking at the road then, either, but it's still really bright.

RE: Neat
By TomZ on 10/26/2006 3:45:37 PM , Rating: 3
In reality, LEDs would be, by design, no brighter than other technologies, and would also have to still meet Federal requirements in terms of direction, focus, etc., same as existing technologies.

RE: Neat
By Aikouka on 10/26/2006 3:47:37 PM , Rating: 2
Oh God, and I didn't think my insane spouts of profanity toward oncoming drivers who don't turn their high beams down could get any worse. I'm going to pop a blood vessel and hemmorage at this point :P.

I think a nice technology in lights would be an auto-aiming mechanism. The point being how when going up hills, your lights have horrid visibility, because of the slope of the hill, but when going down a hill, you end up blinding anyone you go past, because your lights are aiming further ahead because of the slope.

As an interesting little (short) story... one time I drove with parking lights at night. That was actually really interesting and as long as there are lines in the middle and on the edge of the road, it's not that hard to do. I highly recommend not even attempting it on roads without line markers on both sides... heck, don't do it anyway... I don't want to be held liable for putting such crazy ideas in your head and causing an untimely death :P.

RE: Neat
By glennpratt on 10/26/2006 4:50:57 PM , Rating: 5
Yes, those lines will help you see the deer in the middle of the road.

RE: Neat
By Aikouka on 10/27/2006 12:35:35 AM , Rating: 2
Never had a problem with deer and I live in the country :P. I also was just "testing" it out for short periods of time (nothing too serious or alarming). It was actually interesting and I may try it for longer durations... as long as I'm not speeding :P.

RE: Neat
By Houdani on 10/26/2006 5:19:49 PM , Rating: 2
I've done this too. It was a very foggy night and my headlights were actually blinding me. Well, more of a whiteout condition. I dropped down to just the parking lights and -- voila! -- I could see again.

(Well, to be honest, the big street lights were doing a pretty good job of illuminating the road through the fog.)

RE: Neat
By Aikouka on 10/27/2006 12:36:33 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, in heavy downfalls of snow, you're not supposed to use your high-beams and if your low-beams are just as bad, you can switch down to parking. But the best overall advice is if you can't see with your lights, you should try to avoid driving ;).

RE: Neat
By plonk420 on 10/27/2006 1:43:16 AM , Rating: 2
i guess none of you drive "luxury cars" :)

even low end not-so-new luxury cars like the Audi A4 (previous body model) have auto-leveling. and i'm sure it's impoved even more, since. Lexuses if i'm not mistaken (or maybe BMW) had headlights that turned slightly as went into a turn.

RE: Neat
By captchaos2 on 10/27/2006 9:47:52 AM , Rating: 2
This is great, as if those "hyperbrite" headlights don't already blind us and wreck our night vision. Now we have LED headlights that even come with an actual warning not to look into them. So now I can sit in traffic and be blinded waiting for the idiot with the bright lights to go by so I can eventually see again. High-beam headlights are not allowed to be used inside the city limits for a reason, and these new insanely bright headlights are at least as bright as the high-beams. Sorry, but the argument of having brighter lights for safety just don't wash. If I have a sodium spotlight mounted to my car does that make me really safe? Will the OTHER PEOPLE on the road be safe too?
Believe it or not, there IS such a thing as having too much light! It's called having consideration for the other people on the road and realizing that if car companies don't know how to regulate bright headlights, then we shouldn't buy their cars.

RE: Neat
By highlandsun on 10/26/2006 3:37:43 PM , Rating: 3
I'm a bit surprised at the claims being made. Last time I checked (a few months back) HIDs were still the most energy efficient, by a wide margin. I use LEDs on my car, love 'em, but they're far more expensive than incandescent, and still not efficient enough for forward illumination. The "precise electronic control" is actually a red herring though; the electronics to control an LED array are far simpler than the ballast/igniter needed to operate an HID.

To see just how simple it is, check out the circuit I used on my car...

RE: Neat
By lucyfek on 10/26/2006 6:19:50 PM , Rating: 2
leds are barely more efficient than than most good halogen lights but can't compare to hids. and the more power the more heat (nothing new) but much more difficult to deal with. no glass so nothing to break. there is quite some electronics in the power ciruitry needed, leds dont like to be overvolted (life time dives) and when hid works with high voltage, led requires high amperage (thick wires)
there is no problem with brightness of the beam - one should never stare at a bright light (no matter the source) - and the headlight beam should not be laser like focused (little use of such a headlight). the real problem is with:
1) drivers that forget about high/low beam switch (even though the blue indicator flashes stright into theirs eyes)
2) dumba... that "fix" their headlight patterns from the factory setup
3) a...holes that consider driving under any conditions with fog lights on to be cool
4) trucks (i mean anything bigger than a car) that have headlight mounted so high that the vehicles seem to always have high beams on
all this problems seems to be notorious so driving after the dusk is a real pain. leds won't solve it - a light output war may follow, but even if one can afford to glare anybody in front, somebody from behind wil get him/her. actually, i'd like to get auto -dim outside mirrors (or even a manual - just like the rear mirror on the windshield) - thus far the only way to escape somebody's lasers is to point mirrors in other direction (not the smartest thing while in traffic)
and to curse mf

By bbomb on 10/26/2006 4:15:45 PM , Rating: 2
LED's can light up a huge roadway but not a 10 x 10 room?

RE: .
By Kuroyama on 10/26/2006 4:45:27 PM , Rating: 2
LED lights sold online are usually around 1-2 watts, hence the inability to light up much of anything. It is claimed that a 1.3 watt LED is comparable to a 25 watt bulb, so even if we pessimistically half that to a 12.5 watt bulb then if things scaled well a 50 watt LED would compare to a 500 watt light bulb! Would even beat a 50 watt CFL, as that is comparable to a 200 watt normal bulb (my 55 watt CFL torchiere lights a room).

However, for some reason high intensity LEDs like that used in this Lexus are apparently not as efficient as already existing technologies (anyone know why?).

RE: .
By highlandsun on 10/26/2006 4:55:42 PM , Rating: 3
There are two issues in your comparison - incandescent bulb efficiency drops dramatically as the bulb size/wattage goes down. LED efficiency *increases* as the wattage goes down. So a small LED is usually several times more efficient than a small incandescent bulb.

But LED efficiency decreases with heat, and the bigger you make the LED, the hotter it gets when operating. That's why the efficiency of high power LEDs like used in headlights is so much lower than the efficiency of halogen or HID lamps.

By WhiteBoyFunk on 10/26/2006 6:27:08 PM , Rating: 2
So far I have heard mostly negative things -

"Oh are they going to be SO much brighter?" Doubt it. There are some high-rated light bulbs for autos that I doubt could be beat by much.

Anyway, don't you think a LED will be more precise than the regular halogens that are reflected by housing and mirrors? I think the LEDs will benefit us in that they can provide a more accurate beam that doesn't interfere with oncoming drivers' sense of sight.

RE: Benefits?
By highlandsun on 10/26/2006 6:47:42 PM , Rating: 2
Projector headlamps already have a very precise beam pattern. That's actually part of what makes them so annoying - the sharp cutoff makes it look like you're being flashed if an oncoming car drives over a bump that causes the headlight angle to change rapidly. LEDs won't make this any less of a problem.

It's funny, as lame as US spec headlamps were in a lot of ways, the fact that they had a fuzzy beam pattern was actually an advantage.

RE: Benefits?
By braytonak on 10/26/2006 9:11:23 PM , Rating: 2
I wholeheartedly agree. HID's and projector lamps are bad enough with their razor thin cut-off between minimum and maximum light output. The car can bounce half an inch and you go from minding your own business to being blinded by the light.

Your peripheral vision is what you're using to see the other cars, and that's what gets your attention when these blasted devices dazzle you. You can help but look over at them.

These, combined with the excessive use of horrible manufactured and implemented "fog" lights are making it harder and harder to see on the roads.

LED's are nice and all, but this could be a really bothersome device. I miss the days when we ALL had halogen bulbs and when fog lights were made for fog. The larger origin of light in a halogen bulb made the beam pattern cut-off much softer, which caused less "dazzling".

If these come to market, I swear I'll mount Stadium lights on top of my car to piss people off.

RE: Benefits?
By sprockkets on 10/26/2006 11:29:36 PM , Rating: 1
either that or you people with reflector based lamps are annoying whether you bounce or not.

My Mazda3 HIDs do the best of both: They use projectors BUT for the left headlamp cut the beam in two, so that the upper part of it is not as bright, and both are slightly out of focus so as to not be razor sharp. Also, unlike most other headlamps, I can manually point them lower, so as not to annoy people on hills.

By encryptkeeper on 10/26/2006 5:13:39 PM , Rating: 2
Jesus Christ man, I already hate it when someone with blue headlights comes up behind me, I always think it's the cops. And besides, these lights are supposed to be brighter? Damn, half the headlights on the road blind me as it is, how much more brightness do you need?

By IceTron on 10/26/06, Rating: 0
By mgambrell on 10/26/2006 11:12:02 PM , Rating: 2
gah I hate those headlights as well. Even if I'm not speeding or driving like a maniac, theyre still different and alarming enough to catch my attention (distract me). Its not only paranoia...

Those headlights also seem to be more directional.. the flash as the car tilts and shines through your field of view is more acute than with conventional headlights. Maybe.

By exdeath on 10/27/2006 10:17:22 AM , Rating: 2
"catch my attention"

Why do you think all these kids want these stupid HID lights? Because it's the "cool" fad to have these days and they want people to look at them because they think their entry level bottom of the line leased used bmw is 733t.

Whats really funny are the budget ricers that put blue tint inside the lenses of the halogens on their civics. *snicker*

I just use pure white Sylvania bulbs in my Cobra, even colorless light enough to light up the next neighborhood, but not capable of burning a hole through a deer 800 feet in front of me.

By mgambrell on 10/26/2006 4:12:27 PM , Rating: 3
Can anyone else see them flickering? Whenever I turn my head and LED taillights go through my field of view, they flicker and catch my attention. God I hate that. Oncoming traffic with flickering headlights will short circuit my brain, I swear

By highlandsun on 10/26/2006 4:53:03 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, they're dimming them using PWM (pulse width modulation) which means they're getting rapid pulses of full voltage rather than just giving them a constant lower voltage. It insures that their color stays constant (because otherwise, the color changes with voltage) when being dimmed. I guess they're using control circuits with a pretty slow pulse frequency, I can see them flicker too.

Headlights probably wouldn't have this issue, they'd be operated at full intensity in normal use so there'd be no need for a PWM dimmer. The difference between low beam and high beam would just be turning on an additional bank of LEDs.

Energy Efficiency
By daftrok on 10/26/2006 3:49:41 PM , Rating: 1
I for one am happy that LEDs are being placed in automobiles. Perhaps this could bring down the production costs of LEDs and can be used more commercially, like for lighting They began doing it for street lights but I want it do expand. I just wish things would move along faster. Energy efficiency is key because of this global warming crap, rising energy costs, and crappy incandescent bulbs that need to be replaced every year or so (depending on use). I like CFLs, but they're not as versatile as incandescent and regretabbly I am burning 200 watts just for the dinky 5 bulbs in my fridge when I could be using just 35 watts, because CFLs dont work well in low temperatures :(. I wonder if CFLs have been considered to be used in car headlights as well. Any new on that?

RE: Energy Efficiency
By daftrok on 10/26/2006 3:54:19 PM , Rating: 1
Or are CFLs too inefficient compared to HIDs and LEDs?

RE: Energy Efficiency
By highlandsun on 10/26/2006 4:01:47 PM , Rating: 2
CFLs are extremely efficient. HIDs are also very efficient, around 100 lumens per watt. Even the best LEDs are only ~20-25 lumens per watt today. This is still a dumb idea.

By rudy on 10/28/2006 3:20:12 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know if these lights are like other LED products but if they are they are going to be very annoying. Anyone who has tried to use an LED flashlight knows. It is really good and bright if you are looking directly into it, but the actually illumination of the surroundings sucks. Which amounts to this light only blinding other drivers and not doing much to light up the road. Besides that in general all the new lights are getting annoying. I have found my self flashing people only to find out that was just their low beams blinding me when they flashed me back.

BTW some companies do have headlights that adjust around curves, but it is mostly in luxury cars.

By archcommus on 10/26/2006 4:05:35 PM , Rating: 2
I think the headlights on that Lexus look great.

You mean to tell me the square headlights with the opaque front and hidden bulbs of the late 80s and early 90s are better looking?

By rushfan2006 on 10/26/2006 4:21:50 PM , Rating: 2
um...ok you do that anyone here gives a rat's ass if you do or don't buy a car...whatever floats your boat...

ANYWAY addressing other posts in this thread -- I think its a bit humorous when people talk about these lights being so because the folks that can honestly afford the cars mentioned in the article -- really they are poor and pinch every penny.

Its like someone who owns a $250,000 ferrari doesn't really complain or car if gas is $3.25 a gallon.


By braytonak on 10/26/2006 9:13:58 PM , Rating: 2
Well, aside from the stupid HID lamps and some projector lamps, at least they roll off the factory line with lights that are the right colors. You know, yellow for turning, white for reverse, red for stop.

Tommy Teenager driving in his wannabe "kool car" is just asking to be hit when sporting green reverse lights, blue turn signals and yellow brake lights.

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