Audi e-tron in the age of enlightenment

Open gallery

Over the last 20 years, Audi has introduced a series of game-changing headlight innovations

Audi’s latest Digital Matrix LED headlights and OLED rear lights significantly improve visibility

Helping drivers see more (and be seen more clearly) has always led Audi’s headlight design philosophy

The Audi R8 V10 Plus introduced full LED headlights to Audi’s model line-up in 2008

Audi’s Matrix LED headlights – which made their debut in 2013 – were an industry game-changer

Matrix LED headlights are not only brighter; they also detect fellow road users and limit glare

Audi has repeatedly used its successful Le Mans 24 Hours campaign to trial new technology

The 2014 Le Mans-winning Audi R18 e-tron quattro was a test bed for Matrix LED Laser Lights

Audi’s Matrix LED laser lights project a bright cone of light down the road for better visibility

In 2019, the all-electric Audi e-tron marked the introduction of Digital Matrix LED headlight technology

Digital Matrix LEDs act like high-definition movie projectors, painting images on the road

Using Digital Matrix LED headlights, Audi e-tron models can project directions or safety messages

Ultra-compact LED units let Audi craft ever-more-intricate jewel-like headlight designs

With Digital Matrix LED technology, Audi’s slimline headlight designs can amplify a car’s character

Audi’s headlight technology is developed in a dedicated ‘light tunnel’ at the brand’s Ingolstadt HQ

The Audi Urbansphere concept’s animated LEDs can convey simple safety messages to other road users

The Audi A6 e-tron concept’s Digital Matrix LED headlights let you play games while charging

Close Promoted by Autocar 8 mins read 3 August 2022 Follow @@autocar Share

In Genesis, when God said: “Let there be light”, there was light. And it was certainly good. But, if God is in the details, then the headlights and rear lights on Audi’s fast-growing range of all-electric e-tron models are truly divine.

Audi’s defining motto of ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ (or ‘progress through technology’) has underpinned every element of the brand’s DNA and its game-changing approach to design and engineering over the last 50 years: from the turbocharged confidence-inspiring quattro performance of the 1980s, to today’s no-compromise all-electric e-tron powertrains that deliver more range, ultra-rapid charging and all the engaging handling, cosseting comfort and versatile dependability you expect from an Audi.

Through all that, an ever-present shining beacon has been Audi’s pace-setting light technology. First and always defined by safety, but now offering ever more complex ways to define the character of the car (and its owner), we thought it was time to shed light on how Audi’s light technology has evolved.

Find out more about Audi’s e-tron line-up

A light history of Audi

Since the dawn of the car, Audi has always had a clear vision of what really matters when it comes to illuminating the way ahead. “At Audi, light – above all else – means safety,” says Stephan Berlitz, Audi’s Head of Lighting Development. “It means seeing more – and being seen – more clearly.”

The early 1900s sparked some of the biggest shifts in light technology, from paraffin and carbide lamps to the first electric bulbs in 1920. The introduction of Xenon bulbs in 1994 provided more illumination, with 20 percent less power consumption and a longer life. But it was Audi’s introduction of LED technology on the Audi A8 W12 in 2003 that really changed the game, with LED daytime running lights that helped the car stand out more clearly to other road users in low-light conditions. 


Latest Drives

BMW X7 xDrive40d M Sport

BMW X7 xDrive40d M Sport

Renault Clio E-Tech 2023 first drive

Renault Clio E-Tech 2023 first drive

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 2023 first drive

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 2023 first drive

Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor RWD 2023 first drive

Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor RWD 2023 first drive

Peugeot 3008 136 e-DCS6 Hybrid 2023 first drive

Peugeot 3008 136 e-DCS6 Hybrid 2023 first drive

View all latest drives

Read our review

Car review

Audi Q4 E-tron

Ingolstadt enters volume-selling family EV market with an unconventional crossover

Read our review Back to top

In 2008, the Audi R8 V10 Plus introduced full LED headlights. With a light tone that more closely resembles daylight, longer range and less glare, they offered a clearer view of the road ahead, while significantly reducing eye fatigue. They were so ahead of the curve that Audi actually had to get special legislative dispensation to introduce them. Now, LED lights are almost a standard offering from every car manufacturer.

Lightweight compact LED technology has also empowered the creation of dynamic turning lights, which can swivel to match the car’s steering to illuminate key areas of the road ahead. LEDs are also more sustainable, using less energy, creating less heat, and boasting a longer lifespan. “In the past, a bulb was a wear-and-tear part,” Stephan explains. “Now, LED headlights can last the lifetime of the car.”

In 2013, Audi pushed light technology beyond the gaze of its rivals once again with Matrix LED headlights – which detect cars, cyclists and pedestrians, then switch off individual LEDs or LED segments to create a ‘mask’ to reduce glare, while still fully illuminating all other areas of the road for the driver. “Using Matrix LEDs, you can keep the high beam activated, without having to tweak it all the time, and without dazzling cars ahead of you or oncoming traffic,” says Stephan.

The following year, Audi used the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours and the launch of the new Audi A8 to introduce Laser Light technology. A small laser module created a cone of monochromatic coherent blue laser light that could extend several hundred metres down the road, offering an even clearer view of the path ahead. “It’s an absolute joy going on a long cross-country road with such a long beam,” says Stephan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *