Audi hat already moved into lead role in automotive lighting technology at the start of the new millennium. Since then the company has steadily expanded its lead, including with inspiration from racing.
Lighting innovations from Audi
Audi repeatedly plays a key role in driving progress with lighting. Here are the most important worldwide production innovations as bullet points:
- 1994: Second-generation xenon headlights in the Audi A8*
- 2003: Adaptive light in the Audi A8
- 2004: LED daytime running lights in the Audi A8 W12*
- 2008: Full-LED headlights in the Audi R8*, mercury-free xenon in A4* and above
- 2010: Headlights linked to navigation data in the Audi A8
- 2011: Visually homogeneous LED rear lights in the Audi A6*
- 2012: Dynamic turn signals in the Audi R8
- 2013: Full-LED headlights in the Audi A3* for the compact class
- 2013: Matrix LED headlights in the Audi A8
- 2014: Headlights with laser spot in Audi R8 LMX
- 2014: Presentation of Matrix laser technology in Audi prologue show car
The innovative power of Audi has also resulted in major awards.
Dr. Wolfgang Huhn, Head of Development for Light/Visibility at AUDI AG, received the prestigious Professor Ferdinand Porsche Prize from the Vienna University of Technology in 2011 for the development and use of LED technology at Audi. In February 2011, Dr. Huhn was again recognized for the LED technology. The European Internet platform Driving-Vision News named him Man of the Decade.
Lighting innovations in Audi race cars
From the racetrack to the street and vice-versa: At Audi, the developers of race cars and production cars collaborate extremely closely. The topic of lighting has proved to be particularly fruitful.
In the early days of the collaboration, most of the ideas originated from the production developers. In 2003, the reflector for the LED daytime running lights migrated from the top model A8 W12 to the racing version of the A4, which competed in the German Touring Car Masters (DTM). Three years later, the very successful R 10 TDI Le Mans sports car prototype adopted the daytime running lights and tail light signature of the R 8. In 2010, the R 15 TDI used the high beam reflectors from the LED headlights of the street sports car.
The situation changed in the new decade. Now racing – the world’s toughest test bed – is providing inspiration for production. This was the case for the LED headlights of the R 18 TDI from the 2011 season, for example. They delivered roughly 100 watts of power, around three times as much as in a street car, and thus light up the road over one kilometer ahead.
The racing headlights required no electric cooling – the slipstream flowing through a special cooling duct was sufficient. It absorbed the heat of the LEDs, which was dissipated via tiny cooling elements made of graphite foam. The substructure of the reflectors and large portions of the housing were made of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP). Each headlight weighed only around two kilograms (4.4 lb), a model for the production developers, who also wanted to reduce weight significantly.
In 2013, the R 18 e-tron quattro Le Mans sports car prototype presented the evolutionary step: the Matrix LED technology. A few months later, it made its street debut in the updated Audi A8 flagship. In June 2014, the racing and production developers documented their close collaboration with a double premiere: The new R 18 e-tron quattro and the special edition R8 LMX simultaneously presented the laser spot for the high beam at Le Mans. The grille-like appearance of the racing headlights served as the inspiration for the daytime running lights of the new Audi TT* and Q7* production models.
The equipment and data specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.