Two weeks ago, we released our DVN in-depth report on LED technology in automotive lighting. You’ve been sending us great feedback on it — please keep it coming! In the meantime, here are salient points on the matter:
LEDs offer a clearly substantial safety performance improvement, not just a new style. We have to work to shift automaker and public perception in this direction, so as to increase and accelerate the demand and adoption of LED lighting on cars. LED stop lamps are faster to respond to the driver’s push on the brake pedal. At normal roadway speeds, the faster response can give following drivers enough early warning to avoid a crash. And LEDs don’t burn out nearly as often or quickly as bulbs. The colour quality of LED headlamp light is tops; better than bulb or Xenon, and LED headlamp performance is improving rapidly. LED DRLs are highly effective and take almost no power to run, which improves roadway and planetary safety. These are real, practical benefits and we need to emphasise them whenever we get the chance.
Here’s how DVN sees and forecasts the adoption of LED forward lighting:
From 2010 to ’15, competition will increase between LED and Xenon light sources. LED headlamps will remain an ultrapremium novelty for the time being, largely due to system engineering challenges and cost. Cost objections are real, but the high cost of LED headlamps is due mostly to the supporting system, not to the cost of emitters themselves. Generally less than 20% of the total cost of an LED headlamp is in the emitters. That’s important because optical and thermal techniques are evolving quickly, and that together with the rapid, steady increase in available lumens per watt (and per Euro or Dollar) mean LED headlamps are becoming a smarter and smarter choice. Armed with these realities, lighting players are equipped better than ever to increase the adoption of LED car lights.
After 2015, we think LED market share will begin rising more quickly against Xenon; most of the technical and cost obstacles will have been overcome. The styling trend of today’s concept cars will be transferred to new production cars and automaker commitments to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emission will favour the use of LED lighting.
After 2020, LEDs will likely take the lead in car lighting, supplanting Xenon and even competing against halogen on a cost basis.
And that’s assuming no extrinsic forces speed up the widespread adoption of LEDs. Regulations mandating minimum lighting efficacy are taking effect all over the industrialised world, and it’s possible we may eventually see regulations in the E.U. or other jurisdictions banning filament bulbs on new vehicles.
Next to this editorial, I have the pleasure to share with you my interview of Rainer Neumann, one of the greatest experts of automotive lighting.