Hella develops LED headlamp prototype

Automotive lighting supplier Hella has developed an LED headlamp prototype in cooperation with Volkswagen.

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Hella KGaA Hueck & Co. is introducing a headlamp prototype that will use a white LED system for high beam, low beam, vehicle sidemarkers and daytime running lights (DRLs). The system is expected to be in production by 2008.

All-LED headlamp
The new LED technology, demonstrated on Volkswagen Golf 5, was described in a technical presentation on Automotive Lighting Technology given by Karsten Eichhorn of Hella's Corporate Research Dept. earlier this week at the SAE World Congress in Detroit.

Hella's LED headlamp prototype achieves a level of around 1,000 lumens luminous flux in the low beam, and matches the light output of a xenon headlamp. The white LEDs offer greater flexibility for front-end vehicle design. Hella uses both standard LEDs and LED assemblies especially designed for automotive applications.

"The development of white LEDs in particular is creating application possibilities that would have been inconceivable only a few years ago," said Joe Borruso, president and CEO of Hella North America. "Along with its design advantages, the main reason for the development of this new headlamp technology is the reduced need for maintenance. The aim is to develop a headlamp which functions perfectly for the life of the vehicle."

VW Golf 5

The most striking part of the headlamp is formed by seven hexagonal plastic lenses arranged in a honeycomb pattern. There is a shovel-shaped free-form reflector positioned next to these that produces the low beam together with four segments of the honeycomb. For the high beam, the other three segments of the honeycomb are also used.

During the day, all seven segments of the honeycomb form the daytime running light. Six standard LEDs arranged in a row beneath the shovel-shaped free-form reflector are used for the direction indicator function.

Headlamps with LEDs for main lighting functions meet SAE standards in the US and will meet ECE regulations in Europe by 2008. Signalling functions in headlamps (direction indicator, position light and daytime running light) using LEDs are already approved in both the ECE and SAE regulated regions.

Hella first presented a prototype of the LED system at the 2003 International Auto Show in Frankfurt, and predicts that by 2010 LEDs will be widely used in low-beam, main beam and fog lamps because of their increased design flexibility and safety benefits.

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