European Commission: the LED lights of your Audi A6 shall save our planet

Audi-Logo: Neues Corporate Design /Das neue Audi Markenlogo: Die Vier Ringe werden um den Markenkern "Vorsprung durch Technik" erweitertHow many of you took your stunning black Audi A6 3.0 liter for a ride on the evening of the 11th of April? Do you remember the moment you switched on the LED driving lights and you felt an unprecedented bliss thinking that you are not only rich but you are also protecting the environment? Allegedly, the European Commission issued an Eco-Innovation certification on that day for the Audi LED technology, according to the press release of the German car manufacturer. It is stated there that the European Commission has performed several tests and found the limousine Audi A6 to save 1.6 gram per km CO2 thanks to its LED lights. Are you impressed already?

That driving lights are a currently booming field of interest for car manufacturers and consumers is not news. From the manufacturers’ perspective, there has been a lot of investment on research concerning the design and the technology of the lights of a new model. At the same time a consumer gets always impressed by the particular looks of the car that will differentiate him from his peer. There is no doubt that the shape and style of the lights is an important feature that captivates her attention. There is a lot of doubt, though, whether one can afford an Audi A6 or whether 1 gram of CO2 is important enough for the European Commission to issue an Eco-Innovation certificate.

Audi is one of the very few car manufacturers currently that is doing very well globally even in times of crisis and not without a reason. The 50 billion turnover German car giant is growing rapidly and is continuously bringing to the market impressive models for their quality, looks and performance. Particularly, Audi has been the champion in Light-emitting diodes, or LED, for many years now. LED daytime lights appeared for the first time in the Audi A8 W12 in 2004 and a few years later, in 2008, the super car of the German manufacturer, R8, was the first car in the world to “wear” full LED headlights. Nowadays, LED headlights are also incorporated into the series A6, A7 and recently in the A3. The common denominator, however, in all these cars is that they are insanely expensive for the average European to drive. Isn’t it scandalous, then, that the European Commission certifies as Eco-Innovative an A6 whose price in the European market starts from 35.000 euros? Should we expect the Commission to also award with an Eco-Innovation certificate the 1.3 million euro new hybrid Ferrari model, LaFerrari, which thanks to its groundbreaking electric motor is reducing its emissions by 40%?

You don’t need to be a post doctoral student in automotive systems to understand that this certification has little to contribute to a greener European society.  We read at the Audi press release: “…testing the low-beam headlights, high-beam headlights and license plate light in dynamometer testing. In the ten NEDC cycles that the Audi A6 ran through, CO2 savings were found to be over one gram per km (1.61 g/km).” Since there is no reference to a more detailed description of the tests, the time and the place performed and by whom, as well as the details of the car, the above sentence does not seem very convincing whatsoever. Was it a comparison between high beam or low beam LED lights and traditional halogen lights? If yes, one would expect a difference in favour of LED, since the latter are undoubtedly consuming less watts of power compared to the former. But even so, was it a 2.0 liter, 3.0 liter or Quattro A6?  Certainly one would expect in an A6 3.0 Quattro even one beam of sun light to make a difference in CO2. Having said that, one can imagine how much shrunk this 1.61 g/km would be in a smaller engine A3 with already much less CO2 emissions than an A6.

But the debate here is not so much whether the tests have any scientific validity, but most importantly whether the Commission is indeed working towards a greener Europe with this action or not. Everyone agrees that research needs to focus on how to decrease the CO2 emission in cars as much as possible. This is also described in the European Commission’ 2020 strategy on climate change which aims at an average European fleet emission of 95 g/km by 2020. Do you really think that the 1 g/km allegedly reduced thanks to LED in a limousine A6 will make Greenhouse disappear? Of course, no one disagrees that LED lights can be less consuming in watts than traditional halogen ones. However, how many people can afford an A6, how many grams would I reduce in my C02 emissions if I drove a cheaper A3 and what about most of the Europeans that do not have a car with LED, are only a few questions that remain unanswered.

I guess it is rather easy to make impression by giving certificates based on “some tests” to big automotive German giants without getting into the painful process to answer the above questions. Especially in times where the German car industry is lobbying heavily the Commission against the “impossible” tough targets being set in terms of CO2 reduction by 2020. I am positive that this Eco-Innovation certificate was much celebrated in Ingostaldt, Audi’s HQ in Germany, and even 500 km northern in the VW’s HQ in Wolfsburg. And frankly speaking there is nothing bad about that. Any company would use this certificate for marketing purposes. The big question, though, remains: What’s in for the European consumer?

Unless big systematic research is conducted to investigate exactly the environmental impact of LED driving lights in all ranges of cars, engines and car brands, I guess the news that the A6 owners are friendlier by 1 gram to the environment is more of a nuisance than a relief to the ears of the European consumer. The European Commission instead of giving “gift prizes” to German lobbyists for their persistent argumentation and kindness, it should focus on more effective ways to combat air pollution in Europe. Besides, the Eco-Innovation last time I checked is an initiative by the DG Environment to support and fund mainly SMEs in eco-friendly projects all over Europe. A 40 billion turnover company is not an SME, is it?

Not to mention that there are other car manufacturers that make use of LED in driving lights like BMW, Nissan or Toyota. Should we expect soon Eco-Innovation certificates to be issued by the Commission for those guys too or we want to support fair competition in the European market while we are being ourselves unfair as market regulators?

Let’s all hope that soon research on the benefits of LED driving lights will grow significantly and that I will also be able someday, together with the humble driver of an A6 3.0 Quattro, to save the European air from many grams of CO2, thanks to the future LED lights of my luxurious Hyundai i10.

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Comments

  1. G. Müller says:

    Eco-Innovation-credit towards the 95g/km CO2-average in 2020 is a tool to honor (and therefore spread) more fuel-efficient devices in cars that do not show their potential to reduce fuel consumption in the standardized cycle (where for example all lights except the daylight-running light have to be turned off). Nothing more and nothing less. If you want to save more CO2: sell your car and ride your bike!

  2. Feel the beauty of LED light while driving. Protect the environment and enjoy the luxury of your car.

  3. Headlight Led kill the eyes of the other drivers. It was not a good idea. You are irresponsible .

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