Cars Lifebytes

Some have said it’s brighter and all the better for your car. But what is LED (‘light-emitting diodes’) technology and how will having LED lights in your Volkwagen be a plus for you and those around you?


Light years before.


Following the use of halogen lights in the 1960s, the first step forward was the introduction of xenon technology in the 1990s. In xenon lights, a xenon arc between two tungsten electrodes burns and produces illumination. A milestone of its own, xenon technology then paved the way for more assistance systems including dynamic cornering lights which improved the capabilities of headlights and increased driving safety.


For instance, masked Dynamic Light Assist technology which debuted in the Touareg in 2010 was the only such technology on the market for two years. Relying on a camera installed behind the windscreen, it ensured that the road was always optimally illuminated without the driver having to manually adjust the lights. More than ever, the technology demonstrated how lighting in cars is networked. In other words, there was a need to communicate with other areas of the vehicle.



With the growing importance and usage of light technology in assistance systems, the first LED headlight by Volkswagen was created in 2005 and seen in the XL1. Now, they’re available in many models including new Passat and Polo in Singapore too.

A closer look at the LED headlamps.


LEDs get it started.

So what makes LED technology stand out? Unlike other sources of light, LED technology does not emit from a single source that is directed and distributed by reflectors and lenses. What you get instead, is a headlight that is comprised of many individual LEDs. Apart from being more energy-efficient than halogen and xenon, LED lights are also more variable and flexible when it comes to design.


One example is with the click-clack tail lamp with light scenes of the new Passat. During regular driving, the lighting is a horizontal row of LEDs. However, the horizontal line converts into a vertical one when the driver brakes. This has a greater attention-grabbing impact for the driver behind and improves traffic safety. This is made possible because each individual light point can be controlled.

Halogen light from the Passat in 1988.
Halogen light from the Passat in 1988.
LED light from the Passat in 2015.
LED light from the Passat in 2015.

See the light.

Many agree that LED technology still has a lot of untapped potential. Other light technologies could also one day enhance LED technology. In fact, Volkswagen has already been developing prototypes for OLEDs (organic LEDs) including curved ones in an interior light. Whatever the case, the pace of innovation in lighting will remain rapid in the time to come and a future with LED lighting surely looks to be bright.