SPECIAL REPORT: Shedding Light – LED Headlamps a Reality -
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SPECIAL REPORT: Shedding Light – LED Headlamps a Reality

Hella to Supply First Full-LED Headlamps for GM in North America


From Underhood Service staff and wire reports 


In January, 2008, Hella KGaA Hueck & Co., a global supplier of automotive lighting and electronic equipment, began providing the first full light-emitting diode (LED) headlamps for General Motors in North America on the 2008-model Cadillac Escalade Platinum.

In this new, upscale sport utility vehicle, LED technology for low- and high-beam functions will be used for the very first time in North America. Production of the Cadillac Escalade Platinum is expected to begin this summer.

Approval for usage of LEDs in low- and high-beam lighting in Europe is expected by 2008, as well.

“The Cadillac Escalade Platinum will be the first high-volume vehicle in the world to be equipped with Hella’s full-LED headlamps,” said Steve Widdett, executive vice president, Automotive Sales, Hella Corporate Center USA. “This marks a significant milestone in advanced automotive lighting applications.”


LED headlamps emit light considerably closer to daylight, improving perception when driving during twilight and darkness, as well as increasing overall driver comfort and safety. Hella’s full-LED headlamps are reported to last up to 20 times longer than traditional automotive lighting.

“Hella is using newly developed multi-chip LEDs as light sources for low- and high-beam,” said Widdett. “LED technology makes new lighting functions possible, opening up new, innovative styling and differentiation potential for vehicle manufacturers.”

Free-form glass projection lenses are being used for the very first time anywhere in the world. Thanks to their individual optical design, each area of the lens is responsible for a certain part of the light distribution on the road. Of the seven glass lenses used in a headlamp, only two are completely identical, all the others are of different shape.


A high-performance ventilator, developed especially for the particularly demanding requirements in the automotive sector, is responsible for the thermal management in the headlamp and takes over the active cooling and ventilation of the LED chips.

The low-beam light section of the headlamp is generated by five optical units arranged underneath one another and situated at the outer edge of the headlamp housing. The low-beam light is responsible for close-range illumination in front of the vehicle. The daytime running function is achieved by dimming the same five optical units of the low-beam.

The remaining two identical optical units in the headlamp are responsible for high-beam light and are situated at the inner edge of the headlamp housing. High-beam light illuminates upward and straight-ahead of the vehicle to maximize visibility.


Also utilizing LED-technology, position lights are placed vertically between the low-beam and the side marker, which is located on the very outer edge of the headlamp. In the 2008-model Cadillac Escalade Platinum, direction indicators and fog lamps are mounted in the lower area of the bumper.

Within the United States, LED lighting technology for secondary lighting functions, such as the position lights and direction indicators, is becoming more common in automotive lighting, Widdett noted.

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