Last week, we presented the benefits of ADB for older drivers. Of course, those benefits apply only to older drivers in new cars equipped with ADB; it is not really helpful to recommend ADB to people not in a position to go buy a new car. There are still millions of vehicles on the world’s roads and in the world’s new-car showrooms, not only without ADB, but without LED headlamps at all.
Democratising technology must extend to all drivers and all vehicles to the maximum possible degree, so what can be done?
A possible solution is LED substitute bulbs, designed to replace the halogen bulbs in existing headlamps. They have been available on the aftermarket for many years as “off-road use only” items not capable of providing legally or technically adequate safety performance. But recently, LED replacement bulbs have begun to gain legitimate potential as the involved technologies have reached the necessary developmental stages, and bona fide manufacturers have been working to develop LED bulbs as the world’s technical standards bodies—GTB/GRE and SAE—have been seriously working on devising appropriate specifications for this type of product. There’s Lumileds’ Philips-branded product range, and Osram have been developing and marketing a range of their own, as well; at Automechanika 2022, Osram will present their Night Breaker H4 LED, which has been nominated for an Automechanika Innovation Award.
So this week, we examine the question from the first of two You’ll find DVN senior advisor Ralf Schäfer’s interview with Lumileds Automotive’s aftermarket sales and marketing VP Vincent Ranic, who discusses his company’s technical and commercial developments and successes in LED replacement bulbs. And next week, DVN chief editor Daniel Stern looks at the challenges and issues that still remain.
Of course, automakers and lighting suppliers are primarily orientated toward new-vehicle innovations like ADB and new lighting functions, and in the long term, we must do everything possible to maximise the proliferation of ADB—really, it should be mandatory! But at best that will take quite a long time, and it won’t help cars already built without ADB. So we must all also, as a short-term goal, do everything we can to give drivers of non-ADB cars the best possible lighting. Perhaps good LED retrofits, made and regulated appropriately, can be a good step in that direction.