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First LED Headlights Appear, Unleash Astonishing Styling Possibilities

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.

While LED taillights have become commonplace, we haven't seen them in the front of vehicles until now. The first production cars to use LED headlights will be the Audi R8 and Lexus LS, with more on the way. LEDs last longer and use less power, but by far the most appealing aspect of these tiny lights: the styling possibilities, where they take up much less room and can be distributed on the front of the car in unusual ways.


It's not easy engineering these LEDs for headlight use, because they get hotter than a two-dollar pistol, plus that heat from the engine compartment doesn't help, either. We're glad they sorted that out, though, because check out how way-cool these rides look. Not long from now, vehicles with old-skool conventional headlights will be about as appealing as grandma's mustache.

LED Headlights [Wheel Talk, via treehugger]

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I love hearing about this, but I also agree that there will be a range of problems different from those of incandescents or HIDs.

I think Hodo's point about the gradual decay of LED intensity might become a serious issue, if the cars start to emit light below safe levels—unless, perhaps, the manufacturers were smart enough to under-drive the LEDs and will gradually boost them as they age.

Also: Although LEDs are indeed durable, there are two problems in using multiple LED arrays like these. One, you have more individual units, so the odds of any one LED failing because of a manufacturing defect are higher, and the arrays won't look attractive with some LEDs out. The other is that the LEDs are only as good as the wiring and boards they're plugged into. Looking at a number of LED center and brakelights, I see failures that look like a board or wire cracked, taking out half the array.

I think these problems are easily solved, mainly just by quality manufacturing and careful forethought in design. But who expects corner-cutting suppliers and automakers to do that?