Audi AG customers in Europe, for another $3,000, will be able to buy A8 sedans with headlights that see around corners and illuminate more space without blinding oncoming motorists.
"Extremely trick," Car and Driver magazine called the lights after Audi showcased them at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
A demonstration, though, is the only US setting in which Audi can show off the lights, because a 45-year-old regulation prohibits them in the second-largest auto market after China. "The lighting technology changed dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years," Stephan Berlitz, Audi's head of lighting innovations, said in an interview. "It's difficult to do all these innovative things in this regulation from 1968."
Volkswagen AG's luxury unit is among automakers and lighting manufacturers pushing to change the rule requiring headlights to switch between low-and high-beam settings, a distinction the self-adjusting Audi lights eliminate. Industry representatives are preparing to meet with US regulators as a step toward changing the standard.
The headlight rule, which has been updated over the years, is one of the oldest in US auto safety, predating the 1970 creation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Headlight technology has advanced since then from sealed beams to halogen to xenon and now to light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. While more expensive than older forms of lighting, LED lighting lasts longer, generates less heat and uses less power.
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