1968 Headlight Rule Challenged by Audi; New A8 Features Advanced Technology

Wednesday, 17 Apr 2013 09:44 AM

By Michael Mullins

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The German automaker Audi is pleading with U.S. lawmakers to revise a 1968 law on automobile headlights that would prohibit the sale of their forthcoming A8 sedan.

The new sedan has an array of new headlight features, including the ability to send light around corners for increased visibility. The headlights automatically adjust to traffic, weather, pedestrians, and other conditions, offering drivers greater visibility compared to the high and low headlight options, the company said.

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Presently, the 45-year-old regulation requires that cars sold in the U.S. have only high and low headlight options, Bloomberg Business Week reported.

"The lighting technology changed dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years," Stephan Berlitz, the Audi lighting chief, told Bloomberg News. "It’s difficult to do all these innovative things in this regulation from 1968."

Audi is one of several automakers, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and General Motors, that have lobbied to have the law changed.

Many luxury carmakers have sought options for headlights, according to Jeremy Anwyl, vice chairman of auto researcher Edmunds.com.

"They’re considered jewelry, so if you can create a sexier design, they can help with sales," he told Bloomberg News.

The "matrix-beam" headlights Audi will offer in the A8 consist of multiple LED bulbs that adjust automatically based on the car's cameras and sensors.

The system also allows drivers to keep their high beams on at all times without blinding other drivers, according to Audi. This is possible by bulbs that can be flipped off when a vehicle is detected in front of the car.

In addition to enhancing the driving experience, LED lighting may also improve fuel economy.

With a base price of $72,000, Audi's A8 sedan offers the headlight feature for an extra $3,000, Bloomberg reported.

European consumers will soon be able to purchase the new sedan as there is no regulation that prohibits the lights, however, Americans will have to wait.

In 2012, Audi set a U.S. sales record, selling 139,310 vehicles last year, eclipsing the previous year's record by 18.5 percent. Since 2009, Audi sales in the U.S. have increased 68.4 percent, according to the company's website.

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Related stories:

Audi Chases BMW With Overseas Expansion Drive

Audi Plans to Spend $17 Billion on Expansion in Pursuit of BMW

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