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BMW begins laser-headlight production for i8

BMW\'s new laser-powered headlights have entered production ahead of their debut in the i8.

BMW has announced that its laser-headlight technology has entered volume production. The 'Laserlight' will be available as an upgrade option for the company's i8 plug-in hybrid.

The next-generation technology is illuminated by three blue lasers in each headlight. The beams are combined and reflected through a lens with a fluorescent phosphorous filter, creating a white light with a spectrum that is said to be similar to daylight.

The Laserlight high-beams are claimed to provide an effective range of up to 600 meters, doubling the illumination range of the i8's basic LED-based high beam. Despite the additional brightness, the lasers are said to bring a 30-percent efficiency gain compared to the already power-sipping LEDs.

"Due to their highly intensive and virtually ideal beam properties, laser diodes render the overall system even more efficient," BMW notes. "In conjunction with the camera-aided digital high-beam assistant, dazzling of oncoming traffic or vehicles ahead is reliably eliminated."

Longevity is expected to be similar to LEDs, beyond 10,000 hours and likely exceeding the life of the car. The laser system also should eliminate the color-shift problems of many aging HID bulbs.

BMW claims it will be the first to offer such technology on a production vehicle, adding the option to the i8 sometime this fall, however competitors have already announced similar plans. Audi will utilize laser technology on its R18 e-tron Quattro race car, however the company has yet to announce a timeframe for availability in production vehicles.

It is unclear if next-generation headlight technology from any company will make it to the US market in the near future, as the NHTSA has yet to formally approve lasers for such applications.

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