Osram provides the headlamps for the optional laser high beams on the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid supercar. BMW says the i8’s laser lights use half the energy of light-emitting diode headlamps. A laser diode can emit 170 lumens per watt compared with 100 lumens from LEDs. (A lumen is a unit of visible light.)
The i8 is built at BMW's plant in Leipzig, Germany. The factory underwent a 400 million euro upgrade last year ahead of the production start for the i8 and the i3 battery-electric compact hatchback. Output of the i8 is forecast to peak at more than 7,000 units in 2015, according to IHS Automotive.
BMW delivered eight i8 models fitted with laser lights to specially selected customers on June 5. The i8, however, won't arrive in European showrooms in volume until the autumn. Audi will begin delivering its limited-edition R8 LMX with laser lights in Europe in late July. All together, 99 units of the supercar will be delivered to customers.
The laser high-beams on both models offer a bright white light that extends about twice as far as LED high-beams. Because of their intensity, they only work above 60kph -- and when sensors detect no other light ahead. The lasers can't be used to flash, and, indeed, won't be offered in the United States because they far exceed brightness standards.