Although BMW was the first to announce plans to introduce laser headlights to its cars, revealing the technology in concept form as far back as 2011, Audi hinted earlier this year that it may in fact be the first automaker to actually start selling a car with laser lights with the reveal of its R8 LMX. In turns out BMW had nothing to worry about as its laser headlight-equipped i8 has been in production for several months now and the first examples were finally delivered to customers this week.
The first eight customers from Germany received their i8s as part of an official ceremony at BMW’s headquarters in Munich, and all of the cars were equipped with the laser lights. It should be noted that BMW is only offering the laser headlights as an option, while Audi has made them standard on the R8 LMX. And both automakers are using the technology for the high-beams only at this point.
Laser lights offer a number of advantages over the best lighting technology available on cars today, LED lighting. Not only is the light more like daylight, it can reach as far as 600 meters or double the range of LEDs, and the beam pattern can be controlled very precisely, instantly and safely—the headlights work together with BMW's camera-aided digital high-beam assistant, which dims the light if it detects an oncoming car or another car up front. Finally, laser lights consume around 30 percent less energy than LEDs and the diodes are ten times smaller.
A trickle of i8s have made their way into the U.S. this past spring, as 2014 models. The bulk of i8 deliveries, however, will commence later this year. Pricing starts at $136,650 including $950 in destination charges.
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