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Automotive LED lighting inches forward

John Day

John Day

Posted Sep 6, 2012
1 Comment

Automotive LED (light emitting diode) lighting still costs more than other technologies but automakers can do more with it to distinguish their cars from the competition, so it’s likely that LED lights will be increasingly common.

In recent announcements BMW selected HELLA to supply LED tail lights for the 2013 BMW X6 Sports Activity Coupe and Ford’s 2013 Mustang GT features a fog lamp based on OSRAM’s LED system.

HELLA is also supplying Xenon headlights, interior lighting, fog lights, intelligent battery sensors, rain and light sensors and overhead control units for the BMW X6.

HELLA said horizontal light guide rods on the previous model’s tail light have been replaced with low profile light guides that create the impression of floating light strips. A new manufacturing process uses vibration welding with infrared preheating to attach the light guides directly to the lens. HELLA said the infrared preheating enables a clean and uniform welding connection with little visibility compared with noticeable welding foam otherwise.

OSRAM said its “plug and play” JOULE LED module in the Mustang GT fog lamp uses 14 watts of electricity compared with 35 to 65 watts for halogen light sources, plus, because it’s LED, it will last for the life of the vehicle.

OSRAM in its announcement referenced a McKinsey & Company market report that OSRAM commissioned last year. The report predicts a sharp increase in automotive LED lighting adoption by the end of the decade. LEDs claimed a 12% share of an $18.1 billion automotive lighting market but researchers expect to see LEDs’ market share grow to 34% by 2020 based on anticipated growth in LED headlight adoption by OEMs.

LED technology also offers benefits for Interior lighting. NXP earlier this year introduced an ASSP (Application Specific Standard Product) for ambient lighting enables that enables LIN (Local Interconnect Networks) addresses of LED modules to be individually programmed after being installed in the car, rather than during module manufacturing, so automakers can offer their customers personalized ambient lighting.

OSRAM, Ford Mustang GT, Hella, BMW X6, McKinsey & Co., NXP, LED (light emittng diode), LED headlight

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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Comments 1

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Hi John, that's true, life with LED lighting is getting so much more exciting. Design in cars is a major role and LED headlights give the cars a great new face. My favorite is still Audi but in the heart I would love to get a Mustang GT with some nice full LED headlight like Audi and Mercedes-Benz has already. LEDs are "cool" but only visually, thermally they are a challenge. I'm working with a lot of our customers in the automotive lighting industry and such a headlight is not a simple system as it looks from the outside. There is a lot of technology and components in them and all influence the thermal design in some way or the other. So not an easy task for the designers and engineers. Regards, Boris

Boris Marovic
1:00 PM Dec 19, 2012

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