Guest Editorial by Dr. Rainer Neumann, Varroc Lighting VP of Global Technology
We are facing a time when discussion on environmentally friendly contributions from everybody is needed to reach the aligned targets and save the globe.
In the automotive industry, which contributes about 14% of the CO2 emission, there is already acceptance of further reduced requirements of allowed CO2 emissions in the next seven years. When we introduced the LED light source in headlamp systems in 2003 we all described the benefits as an efficient, low-power and long-lived light source with potential to save 2-3 g/km of CO2 compared to halogen light sources (H4, H7…) with 60-65 watts.
The first headlamps took approximately 16 watts each for low beam and high beam, which fits into this scenario. In between we in the vehicle lighting industry had so many ideas and opportunities to exploit LEDs to improve the light performance and add new functionalities, which can be projected on the road giving information to the driver and also to other road users. Also, screens mounted in front of the vehicles allow to communicate from car to pedestrians by showing symbols easy to understand for everybody, with the target to make driving safer. All this is very important to study and to pre-develop in order to sort out the most efficient ways to realise the best solutions.
Currently we have complex matrix headlamps mainly in the premium vehicle level, and projection signs generated with high-resolution projector chips will enter the market in premium vehicles. The disadvantage: not only are they very expensive, it is also the direction of development we have to question: with about 100 watts per headlamp, a weight of about 10 kg, and efficiency of about 25%, we are far away from the original ideas of introducing LED in headlamps. The only remaining positive parameter is the long lifespan! As a consequence we are not saving 2-3 g/km CO2, we are adding CO2 emissions compared to halogen light sources!
In view of the future introduction of more electric vehicles, which has started now in all vehicle levels, we need to contribute with efficient, low-power solutions while keeping a high level of safety for nighttime driving, with affordable costs.
The target should be to put automatically-controlled matrix LED headlamp with ADB functionality in all car segments in the future—standard, electric, and autonomous vehicles alike.