LED headlights can add up to six miles of electric vehicle range

We've been charting the progression of in-home lighting, CFLs replacing incandescents but themselves slowly walking the path obsolescence as LED bulbs get cheaper and more common. It's much the same on the vehicle lighting front, with LEDs taking over more and more automotive lighting, and now OSRAM Sylvania is giving us another reason to make that happen sooner. LED bulbs can provide the same amount of light as traditional incandescent car bulbs with less than 25 percent the energy draw. On a gas-powered auto that's not such a big deal, where LEDs are being used primarily because of benefits like cooler temps, longer life, and greater stylistic freedom, but on an EV that reduction in current draw can offer as much as a six mile boost in range on a single charge. That may not sound like much, but if you ever run out of juice five miles from home you might just change your mind.

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Improved Energy Efficiency from High Tech Lighting to Help Extend Range of Electrics

HILLSBORO, N.H., Jan. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- When the travel range of electric vehicles determines who makes it home to re-charge their batteries and who is stranded by the side of the road, every watt saved and every additional mile counts.

So suggests Jonathan Dunlap, an automotive lighting engineer and product marketing manager with OSRAM SYLVANIA, the world's leading manufacturer of automotive lighting, in reference to an SAE paper regarding LED and power consumption of exterior vehicle lighting. Though the paper was written in 2008, the trend is now taking hold, he says.

OSRAM believes that "micro-hybrids" or mild hybrids, which feature engine stop/start mechanisms to boost the efficiency of conventional vehicles, will benefit greatly from LED lighting by reducing power draw and battery drain, as well as increasing light output during low power mode and startups.

"Just like going from a 75 watt incandescent light bulb down to a 18 watt compact fluorescent has made a significant difference to reduce the nation's energy consumption in the home, so too can LED lighting make a difference in automobiles, especially once alternators and generators in the cars are right-sized for higher efficiency," says David Hulick, marketing director for Automotive Solid State Lighting for OSRAM SYLVANIA.

The benefits are most notable in electric vehicles, which rely completely on stored electricity from batteries. "An efficient LED headlamp system can extend vehicle range by nearly six miles (9.5 km). Even with conventional vehicles, a 28 watt LED system emits only 196 grams of carbon dioxide per 100 kilometers compared to 768 grams of carbon dioxide per 100 kilometers from conventional 110 watt H7 halogen bulbs. Whether the goal is reduced fuel consumption or reduced carbon emissions, LED lighting is the best technology available," said Hulick.

Most people are aware of this surge in electric vehicles, but few realize that their headlights may soon have no light bulb to speak of. "Automakers are considering LED systems for forward and other lighting needs as one of the measures to achieve energy savings," says Dunlap.

But not only will electric vehicles benefit. The race is on to reinvent the automobile to meet ambitious new fuel economy standards. Vehicles are or will be receiving a super high-efficiency makeover in the form of downsized turbocharged engines, hybrid powertrains, low-rolling resistance tires and more efficient lighting systems.

Dunlap points out that lighting changes will make a significant contribution to fuel efficiency and carbon emission reduction goals both in the U.S. and abroad.

Traditional halogen bulbs can draw 240 watts in high beam mode, whereas OSRAM's JOULE® LED lights draw only 56 watts. While this may seem small, with more than 240 million vehicles on the road driving millions of miles every year, the energy and fuel savings will be significant.

OSRAM's LED lights are already featured on popular cars such as the tail lamps on the Ford Mustang.

The data mentioned above is from a 2008 Society of Automotive Engineering study submitted by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), which can be found at More information about OSRAM lighting can be found online at


OSRAM SYLVANIA, together with OSRAM GmbH, is the world leader in automotive lighting for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and the aftermarket. The company's global automotive lighting division has its principal North American operations in Hillsboro, N.H., with nearly 700 employees. In addition to TS 16949, this facility has also achieved ISO 9001 and 14001 certifications. Automotive Lighting designs, develops, manufactures and markets state-of-the-art automotive light sources, including auxiliary, advanced halogen, LED and high-intensity discharge lighting for interior, exterior and forward lighting applications. Over 400 lamp types are produced for cars, trucks, and electronics in facilities throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Automotive applications for OEMs are marketed under the OSRAM brand while products for the aftermarket are sold under the SYLVANIA brand.

OSRAM SYLVANIA is a leader in lighting solutions and specialty products that feature innovative design and energy saving technology. The company sells products for homes, businesses and vehicles primarily under the SYLVANIA brand name, and also under the OSRAM brand. Headquartered in Danvers, Mass., OSRAM SYLVANIA is the North American operation of OSRAM GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of Siemens AG. For more information, visit