After failing to get quick regulatory approval in the United States for its auto-dimming Matrix Beam headlights earlier this year, Audi is again making a new attempt to secure approval for another lighting feature in the country. Audi is applying for a new light feature -- sequential turn signals that consist of a string of LED bulbs that light up like a sign on a Las Vegas casino.
While the lights are not questioned in the Europe where they appear on the A8 that will be available for sale in fall, such lights are not allowed in the US. Why? It is because of a clause in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 saying that "the effective projected luminous lens area of each compartment or lamp shall be at least 22 square centimeters, provided the combined area is at least 50 square centimeters," or 73/4 square inches.
The Ford Mustang that uses sequential turn signals complies with the requirement by using three large, red taillights that go on in series. Since the first light in the sequence meets the size minimum, the size of the other two doesn't matter.
On the other hand, Audi’s light system is using dozens of smaller LEDs ticking one after another, according to Stephan Berlitz, head of lighting innovations at Audi AG. The regulatory snags are well expected, especially for Audi who is attempting to remain a pioneer in exterior lighting, which is a heavily examined safety component that plays an increasingly significant role in branding and design.
Audi was responsible for setting a styling trend that uses a string of LEDs for its daytime running lights, making its vehicles more recognizable at night. Other models followed suit like Lexus, Jeep and Buick as well as the Honda Accord and Toyota Corolla.
With other carmakers getting into the trend, Audi has no choice but to create another lighting feature to remain noticeable. Audi, however, likes being imitated. Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America, told Automotive News in an interview in August that when other carmakers copy their light, they basically are putting the Audi brand on their car. [source: automotive news - sub. required]