US Rule Bans Audi Headlights That See Around Corners image

For another $3, 000, Audi customers in Europe can buy the A8 sedan fitted with headlights that see around corners.

The German automaker presented the ‘Extremely trick’ headlight, how they were called by the Car and Driver magazine, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the US 45-year-old regulation bans the headlights.

“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.”

VW’s Audi is among the numerous lighting manufacturers and automakers that try to change this regulation requiring headlights to switch between low- and high-beam settings. These settings have been eliminated by Audi’s self-adjusting lights. The US headlight rule is older than the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which was created in 1970.

Although the NHTSA is receptive to the LED technology, which uses less power, generated less heat and lasts longer, the agency is not convinced the technology improves safety. Audi will fir the A8 with the new lights, as an option for the model, starting at the base price of $72,000 and reaching up to $134,500. Brad Stertz, a U.S.-based spokesman, said that the lights will be available in non-US markets beginning with 2014.

“The U.S. regulation knows only high-beam and low-beam and nothing in between,” Berlitz said. “The newer technologies allow to have something in between,” said Stephan Berlitz, Audi’s head of lighting innovations.