LED lights are loosing their luxury segment exclusivity as automakers are finding them to be more efficient than traditional bulbs and more accessible due to price drops.
Designers are also exploring the other benefit to using them, which is that they just look really good on cars. Audi is a perfect example of this, with its LED use for some model’s daytime running lights and taillights, as is the Dodge Charger with its full taillight LED display.
Taillights “have become a style statement,” says Steffen Pietzonka, a vice president of marketing for Hella KGaA Hueck & Co., which produces LEDs for Audi. Pietzonka adds, “Over the next four years, a lot of entry-level and mid-sized vehicles will have LEDs. It offers huge styling opportunities.”
Kia has even begun to take advantage of the light’s styling opportunities with the 2012 Soul, and L.E.K. Consulting of London predicts this will be an increasing trend. LED taillights are expected to be gracing the rears of 29 percent of North American produced vehicles by 2016, a 10 percent increase from the 2011 model year.
Popularity with headlights isn’t expected to take off as fast, as L.E.K. is only predicting 1 percent of North American made cars to have them by 2016.
Xenon headlights, another growing lighting trend, should be in about 12 percent of 2016 models. These lights were first seen on the 1991 BMW 7-series, and are more popular in Japan then the U.S., where the blue shade is not favored.
Another advantage to LED lights is a safety improvement, as the lights are more responsive, at 200-milliseconds, alerting other drivers to breaking quicker. Additionally, they do not produce light from heat as other lights do, so they require less energy.
Although the LED lights are becoming less expensive, they are still considerably more, as a halogen light costs roughly $20, xenons are between $60 and $80, LED lights costs about 3 times more than the xenon lights do.
Major suppliers such as Hellon and Visteon are still pushing the lights for mass-market cars, as technology is currently in the works for a passive cooling system which would make them more affordable.
– By: Alexandra Koken