Audi R8: the new 2015 supercar’s laser light show

Published: 17 February 2015

► It’s the new 2015 Audi R8!
► Laser headlamp option revealed
► LEDs supplemented by lasers

Yes, yes - it’s another teaser in the relentless build-up to the 2015 Geneva motor show. But this one does provide our first look at the new Audi R8 supercar that’s probably one of the brightest highlights to look forward to in a couple of weeks’ time.

And here’s another shining example of Audi’s Vorsprung durch Technik mantra: the new 2015 R8 packs laser headlamps to supplement its LED lamps.

Laser lights? I can’t keep up! I thought LEDs were where it was at…

Yes, the pace of change in the lighting departments of car makers around the world continues to astound. 

It wasn’t long ago when light-emitting diodes (LEDs) were the big news. But now Ingolstadt is adding a laser high beam module to provide even more daylight when you flick on to main beam. It’s the same tech that featured on the company’s all-conquering R8 e-tron Quattro LMP1 prototype racer at Le Mans.

The laser lamps will, however, remain a - probably expensive, but as yet unpriced - optional extra on the new roadgoing Audi R8 supercar.

How do the Audi R8’s laser lights work?

This is the clever bit. They use high-intensity laser diodes, which are more powerful than even the brightest LED systems. Audi claims its laser high-beams have twice the range of its most powerful LEDs.

The R8 has LED lights as standard, each corner packing 37 LEDs to provide regular lighting. Each headlamp includes four laser diodes creating an extremely bright blue light; a phosphor converter then transforms this into a bright white light mandated by lawmakers around the world.

As you might expect with lasers, the light pattern can be controlled minutely to direct the illumination where needed. And the company is confident the filtered light is harmless to the human eye. That’s right: even Audi drivers can’t flash lane hogs into submission…

Audi: a history of bright ideas

Ingolstadt claims a glowing record of innovative lighting solutions. It was the first to use LED lights back in the 2004 A8 L W12, it reports, and it was first with laser lights on 2014’s R8 LMX.

We’re just left wondering how long it will take for this tech to filter down to more humble A1s and other more affordable Audis…

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet