"While current vehicle lighting has many benefits, it's also very inefficient," said David Hulick, global product marketing manager at OSRAM SYLVANIA for its automotive LED systems division. "The incandescent bulbs in today's automotive lighting applications generate more heat than light, requiring more electrical power.
"The vehicle's gasoline engine generates electricity, but it cannot do so very efficiently," added Hulick. "The more energy needed, the harder the engine has to work, increasing fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions."
Engineers are moving to lights powered by light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. Unlike incandescent bulbs, LEDs have no filament, so more of the electricity is used to make light, not heat. An LED can make the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb with 85 percent less energy. LEDs are also free of contaminants such as mercury or cadmium and are designed to last a vehicle's lifetime.
Many of today's vehicles utilize LED signal and tail lighting, including the 2010 Ford Mustang. The vehicle uses the OSRAM SYLVANIA's JOULE system, which incorporates LEDs into a form that resembles a typical incandescent bulb, making it easier to adapt the new technology to current vehicle design.
The vehicle's LED tail lamps use 87 percent less electricity than the incandescent counterparts. That's an annual savings of 10.5 gallons of gasoline and 205 fewer pounds of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. "Multiply those savings by the nearly 250 million registered light-duty vehicles on America's roads and you can see the impact that LED lighting could have on helping to clean up the environment," said Hulick.
The automotive lighting could play an even bigger role moving forward as more hybrid-electric and full-electric vehicles come to market. A recent study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) compared the power consumption of an electric vehicle equipped with all-incandescent lighting to a vehicle equipped with all-LED lighting.
According to UMTRI, the increased efficiency of LED lighting has the potential to extend the range of the electric vehicle by up to 2 percent of the total distance driven. That equates to as much as one to two full battery charges for the current generation of electric vehicles.
To learn more about LED automotive lighting , visit www.osram.com.