New laser lights to be offered on BMW's hybrid sports car this year, but will be seen on its mainstream models in 2015
20 February 2014

The BMW i8 will be the first production car to be sold with advanced laser headlights when it goes on sale later this year.

The new laser headlights have been developed in partnership with German lighting specialist Osram, and are set to become an option on BMW’s new plug-in hybrid sportscar. They are claimed to provide vastly improved lighting intensity over existing LED lights, which will feature as standard on the i8, by offering a more constant beam of light.

BMW lighting manager Thomas Hausmann says the new laser headlamps operate at up to 344 lux in high beam mode, as opposed to the 180 lux offered by the latest LED headlamps.

By comparison, older Xenon headlamps turn out 120 lux, while conventional halogen headlamps boast a maximum 100 lux in high beam mode.

The light created by the new generation headlamp is emitted by laser diodes and a fluorescent phosphor material. It is described as being monochromatic, meaning the light waves possess the same length. This leads to a greater luminance and intensity, particularly over longer distances.      

Hausmann says the monochromatic properties of the new laser headlamps allow them to illuminate the road for a distance of up to 600 metres, or up to double the distance of LED units. The more stable properties of the light beam also enable more precise horizontal and vertical adjustment for adaptive functions, such as anti-glare high beam.

During a preview of the new headlamps in France this week, BMW admitted the original intensity of the laser beam, which can reach over 400 lux, has been reduced slightly to decrease glare on reflective road signs.

As well as offering increased lighting intensity, the new laser headlamps are also claimed to be 30 per cent more energy efficient than the latest generation of LED headlamps, offering approximately 170 lumens (a photometric unit of light output) per watt.

Following their debut as an option on the the i8, BMW’s laser headlamps are planned to filter down into other regular BMW models, including next year’s sixth-generation 7-series, which will be previewed in concept car form at the Beijing motor show in April.

BMW rival Audi, which also operates a partnership with Osram, indicated its intention to place laser headlamps into production by previewing the technology on the Sport quattro Laserlight concept at the CES show in January.

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Comments
21

20 February 2014
how to persuade the wife that the i8 is a practical proposition for our newborn and dog. Any ideas?

20 February 2014
So, fancy lights for the road,how long do they last?,can you fit the yourself if one fails?,and,of course,how much?

Peter Cavellini.

20 February 2014
Peter Cavellini wrote:

So, fancy lights for the road,how long do they last?,can you fit the yourself if one fails?,and,of course,how much?

As cutiing edge tech found on high end models, its probably safe to assume that they will be very very expensive. But who the hell is going to want to fit one themselves to their brand new i8? or even in 5 years time when the thing will still be worth £30-£40k??

20 February 2014
Do we need headlights to be any more 'intense'? Has the old adage about using headlights not to see but to be seen gone out of the window?


20 February 2014
bomb wrote:

Do we need headlights to be any more 'intense'? Has the old adage about using headlights not to see but to be seen gone out of the window?

From where does that old adage come? My car was terrifying to drive in the dark until I fitted a xenon kit, now it's actually usable after 5pm.

20 February 2014
Are you saying the purpose of lights isn't to be able to see? At night?

These will work much the same as the LED matrix lights on the new Audis. Different units will automatically dim/switch off/divert from oncoming traffic meaning peripheral areas are well lit but a car directly in front isn't dazzled.

It might not be of much benefit to town and city dwellers but when you're driving in completely unlit areas of the countryside, trying to make decent progress, you want to be able to see pot holes, standing water, creatures and other potential hazards as soon as possible.

20 February 2014
What's this all about, is it getting darker?, all this is going to do is start a german "lighting war" with regards to the brightness of their headlights as a selling point...meanwhile the rest of us are getting blinded, all the headlights need to do is ensure you can see where you are going, and ensure your car can be seen by other road users, I don't see the need for increases in lux unless regulations will ensure the rest of us are not blinded by. I sincerely hope the British government bans this or at least has some strict rules regarding the usage of such things.

20 February 2014
I always find it best to just shoot any new technology down before I read about it. Facts are for jerks.

20 February 2014
benandrews wrote:

I always find it best to just shoot any new technology down before I read about it. Facts are for jerks.

hahaha, brilliant

20 February 2014
As long as the disperse pattern, wavelength and temperature colour doesn't result in dazzle, I don't really see what the issue is. It's not the lux that is the problem.

Watch this year's Le Mans 24 hours to get an idea if these new laser nights are a good or bad thing, they're fitted to this year's Audi R18.

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