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Friday, April 11, 2003
http://www.detnews.com/2003/insiders/0304/11/inside-134266.htm


By Doron Levin / Bloomberg News

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SOUTHFIELD -- Owning a prestigious car isn't quite so satisfying unless you can show it off, which is far more difficult to accomplish on a dark night than in sunlight.

That's one reason why xenon high-intensity discharge headlights -- popular for years in Europe -- have been catching on in the United States as a luxury option. Yes, they definitely improve the driver's view of the road with an eye-

catching bluish-white glow.

But that glow -- not so incidentally -- lets other motorists know, even from a distance, that a BMW 7-series, a Mercedes S-Class or some other pricey model is in the vicinity.

"Having that blue glow is part of the cachet," said Gordon Keil, a product communication specialist for BMW AG. "It looks cool."

Some drivers are buying tinted plastic, he said, and covering their conventional headlights with it, a lame imitation of the real thing. Another option is buying xenon headlights at an auto parts store.

Motorists' complaints

In the same spirit that big SUVs manage to infuriate some drivers of small economy cars, xenon headlamps are gaining the unwelcome notice of some drivers and provoking conflict. Nearly 5,000 people have lodged written comments in response to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's invitation to express opinions about the new headlamps.

About 30 percent of the comments complain of glare. (Comments to NHTSA can be read -- or entered -- on the Internet by clicking on http://dms.dot.gov and typing 8885 into the search engine.)

Xenon high-intensity headlamps, which require about one-third the electricity of conventional bulbs, are a $500 option on BMW's X5 sport-activity wagon. They are standard on the BMW 7-series.

Normal lights work on a tungsten filament that's electrically charged. The high-intensity lamps are equipped with two small electrodes; as an electric charge passes between them it activates the xenon gas.

Consumer Reports' test

Carnage from accidents involving pedestrians suggests that better lighting could save lives. Cars kill about 2,300 pedestrians annually, four times as many at night as during the day. The newest headlamps can throw light 30 percent to 40 percent farther than normal, to about 400 feet.

Whether xenon headlamps are creating a new hazard has become the subject of debate. Consumer Reports said it conducted a test of 41 vehicles, some with conventional halogen lamps, some with so-called HIDs, high-intensity discharge lamps. The high-intensity models produced more glare, the magazine reported.

The magazine also discovered that a Mazda Protege5, with inexpensive halogen bulbs, lit up a marker at 600 feet without glare -- about 200 feet more than high-intensity models.

Paul Thompson, a safety standards engineer for General Motors Corp., acknowledges that some drivers may be annoyed by xenon headlamps reflected in their rear-view mirrors or approaching them from ahead. The lamps don't, however, impair anyone's ability to see, he said.

Regulations possible

"Because they're novel, people stare at them," Thompson said. "It draws people's attention and annoys them. The same thing happened when yellow halogen lamps first appeared in the late 1970s." GM offers them on its Cadillac Seville and CTS models.

Others disagree. They say that shorter wavelength blue light actually increases the perception of glare. Older drivers are more sensitive to it than younger drivers.

In the next few months, NHTSA could issue regulations, depending on its technical assessment of the headlamps, said spokesman Tim Hurd.

Proponents of the technology see it as an advanced safety feature, able to illuminate the road more crisply and precisely than standard halogen lights. "High beams especially are going to be able to see further down the road," said Brian Skogler, an independent consultant in Whitehall, Mich.

Likely to increase

"If the driver is considerate and dips beams to oncoming cars there shouldn't be a problem," he said. Less than 1 percent of new cars are equipped with high-intensity beams -- GM estimates that number at about 20,000 annually.

The number of high-intensity headlamps seems likely to increase, just as other safety innovations like anti-lock brakes and side-curtain air bags have grown more popular. Perhaps federal rules will dictate that they must be aimed or focused better than they are today.

What's likely to help drive the new technology is the lower cost that comes with a greater economy of scale. As the bluish headlamps become less expensive, they should become less effective for flaunting one's wealth.

Doron Levin is a columnist for Bloomberg News.
 

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And you know what,
I would like to join the fucking complainers.

Those things are so fucking bright on low-beams that they are very blidning to other motorists.
SInce i havent gotten my SRT tinted as yet, I have found my self slowing dwon just to get behind those fuckers, to slamn them with some brights.

There has to be some DOT regulation on the max # of candle power than can be considered legal on low beams.

Cali
 

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im personally angry at all the makes except Toyota/Lexus when it comes to HID. See Lexus is the ONLY mass produced brand that uses sensors and a leveler function for their HID equipped cars so that you are not blinded. I mean come on your spending over $35-45K++ for a luxury car or truck the least they can do is think of us the ones who have to look at the lights. I do love HIDs they provide bright lighting, longer range and longer durability than standard halogen. BMW has the most serious problem cause i mean geez we can go out and buy a 760il and still see no HID leveling function :roll: I say the government makes them all put a leveling feature on HID cars see how they like them blinding lights
 

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acr2nv said:
im personally angry at all the makes except Toyota/Lexus when it comes to HID. See Lexus is the ONLY mass produced brand that uses sensors and a leveler function for their HID equipped cars so that you are not blinded. I mean come on your spending over $35-45K++ for a luxury car or truck the least they can do is think of us the ones who have to look at the lights. I do love HIDs they provide bright lighting, longer range and longer durability than standard halogen. BMW has the most serious problem cause i mean geez we can go out and buy a 760il and still see no HID leveling function :roll: I say the government makes them all put a leveling feature on HID cars see how they like them blinding lights
Damn skippy BMW are the fucking worst of em all.
I like the concept and the fact that they illuminate better but for crying out loud....they have so much fucking glare, it appears as if they are on HIGH beams all the time.

I sure do hope legislature goes thru to curb this bullshit, and until then I will blast all the fuckers that piss me off with High Beams.
 

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Well I guess I am going to be the only asshole with H.I.D lights in the SRT-4 when I get it...Oh well. I drive a lot at night and notice a hudge difference in lighting conditions from HID to standard Halogen I have tried the Xenon bulbs but they are crap and cause a lot of glare (maybe those are the lights you see). H.I.Ds are designed to look blue/green/purple from really far away so they don't blind you, as they come up close its a brilliant bright light that is not as damaging to the retna as high beams.

Id say SUV's are the worst but thats only because there lights are higher on the vehicle throwing the volume of the light at eye level (as mentioned my car is 2.5" from the ground so I get everysingle light in my face ALL the time).

It also depends on what maker they are using. Phillips happens to be one of the best kits on the market today for HID, there are a lot of crap brands that use less than the best in parts but overall if you have them you will swear by them. just my 2 cents
 
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