Print 35 comment(s) - last by Azethoth.. on Apr 7 at 8:42 PM

The Lexus LS 600h uses LED headlights

VW's XL1 concept car uses Osram's LED lighting system
Could eventually replace high-intensity discharge lamps

LEDs have had some trouble making headway in the auto industry, but now, Osram is looking to change that by introducing its Joule-branded line of single-source LED lighting. 

Osram is the one of the leading light manufacturers in the world, and has now designed a plug-and-play LED lighting system that could eventually replace high-intensity discharge lamps.

LEDs were expected to be the next huge deal in lighting for autos. Many thought they'd be the next permanent fixture in forward and rear signal lighting; but problems such as cost, the custom-design requirements of pixilated LED systems, and the reliability of the incandescent bulb have slowed that progression. 

"The old technology works," said David Hulick, marketing director at Osram. "It is reliable and durable. It does everything it should. No one out there is saying, 'I have a problem with this, you've got to do something.'"

Another issue is that LEDs do not have as much brightness as high-intensity discharge lamps, but Hulick says they're working on that and plan to achieve the same brightness eventually. Currently, only some luxury models utilize LED headlamps, including the Audi A8 and R8, "top-line" Toyota Prius' and the Lexus LS 600h. 

But now, Osram's Joule-branded line of single source LED lighting has the potential to replace high-intensity discharge lamps because they are interchangeable from one auto to another. The forward-light source measures 2 inches in diameter and a half inch thick with 0.4-inch square high brightness LED chips assorted in the middle. The high-powered LED light source sits behind a molded plastic light guide, and the system draws 14 watts of electricity while halogen bulbs draw about 65 watts. 

LED systems are much more energy efficient, and because of this, Osram believes that automakers will want to use the system in electric and high-mileage vehicles as an affordable option. Instead of using taillight treatments that utilize a custom-designed circuit board with a costly array of LEDs, Osram's system uses a high-powered LED light source that sits behind a molded plastic light guide. 

Automakers have already started using Osram's LED system. For instance, Volkswagen applied the technology to its XL1 concept.

Consumers could also handle the price of Osram's LED system, since it costs $174 to replace the Joule-signal lighting system. It costs about $131 to replace an incandescent system and $299 for today's LED assemblies. 

While LED system's do need more research and improvement before they can replace high-intensity discharge lamps, Hulick predicts that 38 percent of new vehicles will have LED systems by 2015. By 2020, he predicts that one in four cars around the world will have LED headlamps, and 50 percent of cars worldwide will have LEDs for rear signals.

"As the technology matures, I think you use it as a product differentiator," said Hulick. "For the American producers, that's really important. How do you get someone out of the V-6 Mustang and into the [higher priced and more profitable] GT? What features are going to appeal to people that are visible and tangible? Lighting is one of the things that produce this effect."

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Bully bully
By Runiteshark on 4/5/2011 7:29:40 AM , Rating: 3
First and foremost, who gives a damn about saving a few watts for headlights?

Next, you seem to be omitting a few key figures. Traditional HID setups' power draw ranges from anywhere between 35 to 55 watts. Most OEM configurations are only 35 or at most 42, with 55 being aftermarket kits. Typical lumen output is 2800-3300 lumen for the 35w, and 4200-4900 lumen for the 55w kits. For reference, old school halogens are a piddly 600-1200, with the higher lumen output bulbs almost exclusively used for high beams.

These crappy LED's don't have anywhere near the lumen output per watt that HIDs do, and have a celing on what each bulb can put out, thus requiring clusters of them to put out the same amount of light. Furthermore they have another significant detriment to them - no point source. This means they are unfocused and follow a lambertian distribition unlike a typical bulb. Go compare how far a regular flashlight can throw a beam and compare it to a LED. It's even worse when you compare it to a HID. Sure you can put a lens in front of the LED's but whats the point? Then your brohammeds couldn't see your bangin' LED setup you just installed on your Prius, and you still have the issue of wasted light.

Furthermore, HIDs aren't really that expensive. Just because auto-manufacturers artificially inflate the cost of them does not mean they are actually that expensive. Ballasts are not some fancy new technology, and metal halide is no spring chicken either. You can find this futuristic technology in stage lighting, stadium lighting, street lights (or sometimes its high pressure sodium for a more yellow spectrum), spot lights, construction lights at home depot, and many others. The reason so many people choose HID's is because of their unparallelled watt per lumen output and their overall high reliability.

The only benefits I see from LEDs are as follows:
- Lower Heat
- Lower Electricity

Neither really benefit a car in any way shape or form.

The downsides are numerous:
- Significantly higher cost
- Less Lumen output
- Increased Light pollution due to the high 460nm output which is near the top of the Rayleigh scattering scale
- Inability to create a high Lumen single "bulb" ie using clusters instead
- Unfocused, no point source

Bottom line, lumen per watt, HID's are top dog, and thats ignoring everything else. LEDs are simply not advanced enough to compete with them toe to toe, and probably won't for the next 10 years if ever. Also, who really cares about saving a few watts for headlights? Really? Seriously?

RE: Bully bully
By FITCamaro on 4/5/2011 8:08:53 AM , Rating: 3
Well as was mentioned, every watt counts in an electric car.

Besides gotta save electricity for that 3000 watt stereo that will eventually make it into electric cars along with the 22" spinners.

RE: Bully bully
By Gungel on 4/5/2011 8:42:59 AM , Rating: 1
Two LED headlights save up to 100W which is pretty important for an electric car. Using LED headlights can add 6 miles to your range when driving at night.

RE: Bully bully
By Runiteshark on 4/5/2011 9:11:11 AM , Rating: 3

They save roughly 17W over HIDs.

RE: Bully bully
By Runiteshark on 4/5/2011 9:26:25 AM , Rating: 3
I just reread your post, and have this to ask;

How the hell did you magically calculate it'd add 6 miles to your range? 100w is nothing. The electric motor alone can pull 5kW for acceleration, if not more. You use more electricity to run your AC or heater (you don't have an ICE to leech heat from) which will definitely bring your range down.

So no, LEDs are still expensive and the reasons I listed earlier are the reason more auto manufacturers do not use them versus the currently superior HID technologies. I'd also like to point out that just because something is "newer" does not imply superiority.

RE: Bully bully
By Gungel on 4/5/2011 1:02:38 PM , Rating: 2
LED headlights can add 6 miles to an electric car's range:

RE: Bully bully
By Runiteshark on 4/5/2011 3:43:35 PM , Rating: 2
I don't buy that quote whatsoever.

Sounds like he randomly made it up on the spot.

RE: Bully bully
By Azethoth on 4/5/2011 5:03:06 PM , Rating: 2
Please state the nature of your medical emergency. Er, I mean who do you work for? You are exhibiting an insane amount of bias for no good reason. LED lightning is still very much in the development stage and already quite useful as the article states. Coming years will bring more efficiency, at lower price with more light output.

As for the tech under discussion, by your own figures you are comparing 14 watts LED vs 35-42 watts. So a savings of 21-28 watts. Saying this does not increase range would be silly. Saying it cannot add 6 miles is sillier. For any given wattage you can find a car with the specific power and weight and performance to make it true.

RE: Bully bully
By Solandri on 4/5/2011 5:47:04 PM , Rating: 2
A typical sedan needs about 25 horsepower to maintain highway cruising speed. An eco-car with low rolling resistance tires may be able to make it with 20 hp.

20 hp = 14,914 watts
14 watts saving over 14,914 watts used = 0.094% energy savings.

So for every mile the EV travels, the 14 watt savings per bulb would result in an extra 0.00094 miles of range. Or an extra 5 feet per mile traveled.

Put another way, say your EV's battery had just enough juice to let you travel 60 mph for 1 hour. An energy savings of 14 watts for that hour would give you an extra 3.4 seconds of driving time.

There's a reason people don't complain about getting lower gas mileage when driving at night. A single vehicle cutting you off during your hour's drive is going to have a bigger impact on your overall energy consumption.

RE: Bully bully
By 91TTZ on 4/5/2011 6:17:36 PM , Rating: 2
It's not silly at all to claim that LEDs aren't going to add 6 miles to the range.

For comparison, 1 hp is 746 watts. I'll average out the savings and say these lights save 25 watts. So these bulbs will save about 1/30th of 1 horsepower. If you converted it to electricity, a gallon of gasoline contains roughly 36,625 watt hours. If you had your lights on for an hour, you'd save 25 watts hours out of 36,625 watt hours in just one gallon of gas. In other words you'd save 1/1465th of a gallon of gas per hour that you drive.

Real world example: A Nissan Leaf has a battery capacity of 24 kwh. In an hour these bulbs will save you 25 watt hours, or 1/960th of the Leaf's normal consumption. Each hour you drive with these LED bulbs, you're saving 1/960th of the Leaf's battery capacity. Since the Leaf has a range of 73 miles, 1/960th of that is about 401 feet. The Leaf will take a little longer than an hour to go those 73 miles, so the headlights will be running for a little more than an hour. But still, as you can see you're not going to get much further.

RE: Bully bully
By Azethoth on 4/7/2011 8:42:44 PM , Rating: 2
I stand corrected. So it turns out the car that gets 6 more miles out of this is not something many would want to drive since its something close to those solar racers where you lie flat while driving basically a glorified bicycle with an aerodynamic shroud around it.

RE: Bully bully
By quiksilvr on 4/5/2011 9:10:58 AM , Rating: 2
I think the major advantage (besides energy efficiency and heat) is the fact that LEDs last a lot longer. Sure right now it's probably cheaper to buy 10 HIDs instead of 1 LED but that's what they said about CFLs.

I'm not sure what you were going on about the cluster and "brohammeds" but you pretty much pointed out how they fixed focusing with the focus lens (which is on all LED flashlights I've used).

Your argument on Rayleigh scattering is a valid one, however. I am hoping they can get it above 550 nm (in the car headlight environment, they have already achieved this with standard Edison bulbs).

RE: Bully bully
By Runiteshark on 4/5/2011 9:17:44 AM , Rating: 2
HID's last a very long time, much longer then regular incandescent bulbs. The problem is not so much the bulbs, as it is the ballast.

The whole cluster part was brought up since you need multiple LEDs in order to put out the same amount of light as one HID. With the issues of having no point source, this means even more wasted light (read electricity). Lenses will alleviate this as I mentioned, but in all honesty will not make up for the way the LEDs put light out.

If anything, I'd be worried about ONE LED going out in the cluster, causing weird spots to show up. More parts means more points of failure.

RE: Bully bully
By Keeir on 4/5/2011 4:03:46 PM , Rating: 2
Lets check your assertions with some basic math.

Lets assume Osram's Figure of 14W for an LED headlamp versus 35W for HID Lamp and 55W for a Halogen Light.

A HID Lamp has an average service life of ~2000 hours. Lets assume for the second the LED's also make it to 2000 hours.

Over 2000 Hours, the LED headlamps will save 84 kWh over a HID and 164 kWh over Halogen.

Since the Energy has to go from Gas-->ICE-->Alternator-->Converter, I think it will takes 8-10 times as much gas energy to get the required electrical energy.

LED Headlamps will save 20-25 gallons over the lifespan of a HID over a HID. They would save 40-50 gallons over Halogen.

When gas is going north of 4 dollars... that could add up to be fairly significant savings.

I'd be willing to pay 10-15 dollars more per bulb and maybe 50-100 (or 200-300 if the bulb price was the same) for LED lights over HID provided the LED headlamps last as long...

RE: Bully bully
By Solandri on 4/5/2011 6:03:56 PM , Rating: 2
I don't want to criticize this too much because it's a good way to do the lifetime cost/benefit analysis. But I think a little context is helpful.
Over 2000 Hours, the LED headlamps will save 84 kWh over a HID and 164 kWh over Halogen.

If you drive 1 hour with the lights on 5 nights a week, 2000 hours of bulb time is 7.7 years.
LED Headlamps will save 20-25 gallons over the lifespan of a HID over a HID. They would save 40-50 gallons over Halogen.

With gas at $4/gal, 20-25 gal over 7.7 years works out to $10-$13 extra per year.

From a vehicle manufacturer's standpoint, I can see it making sense. If you're building tens or hundreds of thousands of vehicles with these bulbs, then their aggregate fuel savings makes it a worthwhile design consideration.

But for the individual car buyer, the effect is negligible. Your time is probably better spent doing more frequently checks on your tires' pressure and tread wear, than on worrying if you should get LED or HID lights.

RE: Bully bully
By Concillian on 4/5/2011 7:15:04 PM , Rating: 2
From a vehicle manufacturer's standpoint, I can see it making sense. If you're building tens or hundreds of thousands of vehicles with these bulbs, then their aggregate fuel savings makes it a worthwhile design consideration.

But for the individual car buyer, the effect is negligible. Your time is probably better spent doing more frequently checks on your tires' pressure and tread wear, than on worrying if you should get LED or HID lights.

Check the article, they're looking at LED / HID lighting as a way to upcharge consumers. This means that by design a consumer will not see return on investment . It will be used so that auto manufacturers see return on investment, not consumers.

Also, any specialty lighting system will almost certainly be fairly custom for the next 5-10 years. The lack of standardization will mean any people choosing to pay the certainly outrageous up-front costs will alsso be on the hook for outrageous parts costs should something break.

You're not just paying for the upgrade, you're paying the difference between dealer replacement prices and buying standard replacement lamps from Amazon.

Then, they're sure to package in the HID / LED lightning upgrades with half a dozen other features you don't want. So what should cost maybe $100-200 more ends up costing SEVEN. Happened when we wanted heated seats on our car we bought last year. $700 heated seats because it's got all this other stuff -- "If I want heated seats, I gotta also buy a heater for the windshield washer fluid? C'mon, you're kidding right?"

The difference is, when my $700 heated seats break, I can decide to live with a cold butt if I don't have the money to replace it. Can't really do the same if your fancy custom factory HID / LED lamps or electronics go out that you must buy replacements for at the dealer.

RE: Bully bully
By Zoomer on 4/5/2011 11:36:33 PM , Rating: 2
The only benefits I see from LEDs are as follows: - Lower Heat

Wait, what are we going to do about the snow/ice on the lights?

Install heaters? LED automobile lamps, particularly exterior, sound great but is actually a terrible idea.

interesting LED lights =)
By Hafgrim on 4/5/2011 4:18:09 AM , Rating: 2
I found that my LED flashlight that I picked up at my local Lowes for $49 was brighter then my current cars old fashioned headlights are. one night I was outside working on a flat tire and noticed it, So i figured I would share my experience.

This coast flashlight is pretty amazing and makes me wonder why LED lights are not more mainstream or more easily replaceable/upgradable on current cars headlights.
Anyway heres a link to the flashlight for comparison.

Cant wait for Home LED lights to be cheaper since fluorescent lights have turned out to be such a pain. =(

RE: interesting LED lights =)
By Murloc on 4/5/2011 6:31:00 AM , Rating: 2
I love LED flashlights too.
For a flashlight, having a crisp white light instead of the yellowish one is an advantage.

RE: interesting LED lights =)
By Solandri on 4/5/2011 6:17:25 PM , Rating: 2
That reminds me of another problem I've seen with LED car lights. Some manufacturers (primarily GM in my experience) are too cheap/lazy to put voltage regulation on the circuit, and instead they manage the intensity via PWM (pulse width modulation). Basically, they turn the LED on/off really quickly so it's only on for, say, 50% of the time instead of 100%. That gives you an average 50% intensity.

Unfortunately, they're doing even this super-cheaply at around 100 Hz. A not-insignificant fraction of the population can see flickering at frequencies this low. I can see the older tube-style fluorescent ceiling lights flicker for example (60 or 120 Hz). It is incredibly distracting when I'm driving.

They need to put the PWM at like 1 kHz or higher, or spend the couple extra bucks to regulate the voltage so the LED is always on, just glowing less brightly.

RE: interesting LED lights =)
By FITCamaro on 4/5/2011 7:45:28 AM , Rating: 3
I don't think they're saying they aren't as bright as traditional headlights, just not as bright as HIDs. Of course I view that a good thing since I hate HIDs. Sure you can see well. At the expense of everyone in front of you being blinded.

RE: interesting LED lights =)
By rikulus on 4/5/2011 8:43:48 AM , Rating: 3
I've always felt that way about the super bright headlights. Every time I see one of those silly commercials where the dad is busy changing his daughter's headlights instead of watching the big game, for her safety, I think they should show his neighbor's daughter driving in the other direction trying to shield her eyes.

RE: interesting LED lights =)
By ChoadNamath on 4/5/2011 9:21:39 AM , Rating: 2
Seriously, with their obnoxious color temperature and brightness, HIDs probably cause more accidents than they prevent. There's nothing like blinding everyone in front of you (traveling in both directions) just so you can see an extra 10 feet.

RE: interesting LED lights =)
By Runiteshark on 4/5/2011 9:29:21 AM , Rating: 2
You gotta have a lens on HIDs for that very reason. They project huge amounts of light and it goes in a conical direction, which means other peoples' eyes.

I always kinda laugh at those ricer kids in their civics with 12000k purple HIDs with no lens, throwing light everywhere albeit not very bright, since the higher in the spectrum they go the less light they put out.

RE: interesting LED lights =)
By wolrah on 4/5/2011 11:06:44 AM , Rating: 1
Of course I view that a good thing since I hate HIDs. Sure you can see well. At the expense of everyone in front of you being blinded.

You're judging the entire idea by a few retards who illegally throw HID bulbs in reflectors designed for halogen bulbs. Properly-designed HIDs do not blind oncoming drivers. Assholes who think bright blue/purple lights are the shit and stick them in their Civic do.

I hate marketers.
By wolrah on 4/5/2011 11:12:06 AM , Rating: 2
How do you get someone out of the V-6 Mustang and into the [higher priced and more profitable] GT? What features are going to appeal to people that are visible and tangible?

How about the 412HP V8 over the 305HP V6? That's the damn difference! If someone doesn't want it because of that alone, they don't want a Mustang GT.

RE: I hate marketers.
By thelostjs on 4/5/2011 10:29:09 PM , Rating: 2
i believe you, mustang gts are not for everybody.

so how about the prius mentioned in the article?

toyota can make a better margin on the top model.
putting more chrome. i mean leds on a car may help them get the "gotta have THAT one!" response they need.

led tech could replace old school bulbs in all but white light todAY. super bright leds website has led bulbs that fit any socket. id say they could last 7 years. ever had an led burn out in your tv or monitor or pc tower or speaker or flashlight?

RE: I hate marketers.
By thelostjs on 4/5/2011 10:32:34 PM , Rating: 2
the thing that kills leds rep. is the lowquality circuit boards. single led single fixture will own everything.

LEDs can be attractive
By Beenthere on 4/5/11, Rating: 0
RE: LEDs can be attractive
By Gungel on 4/5/2011 8:49:41 AM , Rating: 4
Sorry, but Audi's LED running lights look very good. Compared to some cheap copies that other automakers implemented, for example the new Chrysler 300C, 200 or the Hyundai Genesis.

Very cheap
By Kakao on 4/5/2011 7:05:12 AM , Rating: 2
My bright chinese flashlight with a rechargeable battery cost me ten dollars.

RE: Very cheap
By Kakao on 4/5/2011 7:08:57 AM , Rating: 2
LED flashlight I mean

HiDs are way cool to me
By Chaser on 4/5/2011 8:15:00 AM , Rating: 2
I like how they come on like a neon light and literally paint the light ahead of you and then just drop off at the end rather than slowly fade off into the distance.

Tiffany you're the best
By Chaser on 4/5/2011 8:19:18 AM , Rating: 2
I enjoy reading your articles. They are very informative and insightful.

Most certainly right on the money for a column titled DailyTech.

Thank you

By Burned on 4/7/2011 12:41:25 AM , Rating: 2
"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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