A few months ago we spoke rather candidly with BMWNA about the issues they’ve had in bringing Laser lights to the US. Not only was the DOT standing in the way, but the FDA (surprisingly) held sway due to the fact that it was responsible for medical devices and thus had jurisdiction over the category of lasers in the US. No joke.
Happily for the FDA has approved the laser lights an the DOT has made amendments to the antiquated lighting guidelines it enforces. And like that, potential i8 owners now have the chance of ordering laser lights. However it’s worth noting that laser lights in the US will be around 30% less powerful than their Euro equivalents.
Why Laser Lights Matter
Laser lighting is an important development for a number of reasons. In the laser headlight, the beams of light are bundled together to attain a luminous intensity that is ten times greater than conventional light sources such as halogen, xenon or LED. BMW Laserlight has a visual range of up to 600 meters, twice that of a headlight with conventional light technology.
BMW Laserlight surpasses energy efficiency compared with already highly effective LED light technology by a further 30 percent, thereby providing considerably greater light intensity and a marked reduction in electricity consumption.
The laser diodes are ten times smaller than conventional light diodes, enabling the height of the reflector to be reduced from 9 cm to less than 3 cm. This, in turn, creates more space in the headlight and also reduces weight, thereby creating new design possibilities for the vehicle.
BMW Laserlight takes the coherent and monochromatic blue laser beams and transforms them into harmless white light. This is done by using special lenses to direct the beams emitted by three high-performance laser diodes onto a fluorescent phosphorous substance inside the laser light source. This fluorescent substance converts the beams into a white light, still with a very high intensity, which to the human eye, appears similar to daylight. Following conversion of the laser beams, the harmless, dispersed light is projected forward by the headlight unit.
The laser headlight is also equipped with automatic headlight range control to keep the beam of light at a pre-set level, no matter whether the vehicle is driving uphill or downhill, whether it is fully laden or whether the driver is the sole occupant.
The equipment includes LED lowbeam headlights and LED highbeams with a laser module. The option is currently available (outside the US) on both the BMW i8 and G01 and G02 7 Series. We expect the new 7 Series to gain the laser light option either in March or September of 2016.