Developments in LED Lighting for the Automotive Industry
Automotive lights are an essential part of road and driver safety, both in terms of seeing and of being seen by other vehicles. The progression and development of LED lighting now makes it a viable proposition for the automotive industry, as an alternative to traditional lighting systems. The versatility of LED lighting also frees manufacturers to implement new styles of lighting, both in function and innovation of design.
The Benefits of LED Lighting
LED’s are semi-conductor devices which can convert electrical energy directly into light, rather than relying on heat to produce the light. With the advancement of high-lumen output white LED’s it is possible to use them for low and high beam front lighting as well as daytime running lights, fog lights and advanced lighting systems. The increased functionality means that the lights can prevent glare for the driver by using intelligent beam control by powering different elements. LED lighting also reduces energy consumption compared with conventional lighting methods, and offers consumers a more environmentally friendly solution to lighting, as they are mercury-free (1).
Daytime Running Lights
In 2008 the European commission published directive 2008/89/EC, which legislates that all new cars and light vans built after 7th February 2011 should incorporate daytime running lights in their design (2).
This is not an entirely new concept in Europe, although it is the first time that regulations have been brought in across the continent. Vehicles have been required to drive with headlights on all year round since 1977 in Sweden, while Iceland, Latvia, Macedonia and Norway followed suit in 1980. Other countries such as Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic require drivers to use headlights all day during the winter months, while Hungary and Italy require daytime use of lights only when outside built-up areas. The new regulations are a positive development for the LED market, and due to the flexibility of LED, designers are coming up with a variety of ways to implement daytime running lights into new vehicles.
Innovative Lighting Design
Besides the obvious qualities that consumers require from automobiles, such as performance, reliability and quality, there is also a keen desire for design and style. LED lighting offers a greater range of options for designers when implementing interior and exterior lighting. Rather than using conventional methods of two main bulbs for headlights, manufacturers are able to integrate several LED lights, in rows or formations to create a completely different look whilst maintaining the important aspects of safety. Indirect and decorative use of LED lights can also create an entirely different style to a vehicle, and have a great impact on the overall look of the car. It is quite possible for lighting to be hidden behind the front grill of a car as demonstrated by Visteon with their prototype design (3).
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