Let there be light, white light closely emulating daylight and not blinding Halogen blue, please.
If that is part of a customer wish for vehicle headlights, General Motors Corp.'s Cadillac Div. is happy to oblige. And dealers are delighted.
Cadillac will introduce its new '09 Escalade Platinum edition with innovative LED (light emitting diode) headlamp technology.
GM hopes to expand the LED offering on its premium vehicles over the next three to four years. It will be standard on the Escalade platform next year.
“The '09 Platinum this fall will be the first vehicle in the (entire) automotive industry — not just for SUVs — to execute a fully functional LED headlamp,” David Schiavone, Escalade global product manager, tells Ward's.
Fully functioning means the low and high beams, side markers and light pipes are all LED.
German lighting supplier Hella KGaA Hueck & Co. developed it. Hella claims it is already the No.1 global supplier of LED signal functions.
“Hella has developed and is now going to produce the first full-LED headlamp for the SUV segment for Cadillac,” says Steve Widdett, executive vice president-auto sales at Hella Inc., USA.
“Audi and Lexus have promoted their LED headlamps for quite a while. However, Lexus offers only the low-beam in LED and the high-beam is halogen,” says Widdett.
Audi, meanwhile, introduced the LED headlamps with the launch of the R8 sports car this year. But the LED front lamps are only available as options in Europe at this point, an Audi USA spokesperson says. Audi's rear lights are full LED in the U.S. and Europe.
Cadillac has shown the Escalade Platinum to dealers, who like the technology.
Bob Carpenter, general manager at Sewell Village Cadillac in Dallas, returned from the Cadillac national dealer meeting in March and liked what he saw.
He especially likes the plush Escalade Platinum ESV set off by white LED lighting that is said to closely resemble daylight, is easy on the eyes, conserves energy and lasting 20 times longer than conventional lamps.
The base manufacturer's suggested retail price on the current Escalade Platinum edition is about $77,000. Pricing is not yet available on the '09 version with extra tech goodies, but dealers expect an increase.
Cadillac's Platinum with full LEDs should command around $80,000, they say.
Carpenter says the new upscale Escalade Platinum is loaded with new technology features for the ESV extended-version and regular Escalade in 2009.
That includes a DVD entertainment system with screens integrated into front seat headrests, as well as Magnetic Ride Control suspension system, another Escalade first.
He deems the new LED signature headlamps “impressive and distinctive.” He is especially glad the LED front lighting will be offered for the entire Escalade lineup next year.
“Escalade is a really good seller here in Dallas. I think this (LED) is the newest thing, and everyone wants it,” he says.
He expects the '09 Platinum special edition to “raise the whole Escalade family and get more people looking at it.”
The Sewell Cadillac chain sold 655 total new Escalades last year out of about 1,700 total deliveries
Dealer Ed Williamson at Williamson Cadillac near Miami, FL, thinks the upscale Escalade with LEDs will do well in his high-income market.
“The Platinum represents a vehicle that historically we've made good grosses on,” he says. “It will do fine here. We did well with the prior Platinum Escalade ESV, and the new Platinum Escalade will be a good seller in this market.”
Williamson sold about 500 Escalades last year. His dealership's standout seller is the Cadillac CTS. He is in short supply of those and would like more.
Out of 158 Cadillacs he sold in December, 72 were CTS models, Williamson says. He also sells GM's Saturn, Buick and GMC brands.
Dealers and developers are high on the LED lighting technology — and its future.
Cadillac rival Lexus offers single-projector LED lamps on its hybrid LS600h flagship, says Hella. But Escalade's design uses the efficient diodes for the entire headlight assembly — indicators, low beam and high beam, and also for daytime running lamps, parking and side lights and rear lights, Hella says.
“Audi and Lexus are introducing so-called hybrids (of LED),” Widdett says. “Some Audi and Lexus functions are in LED, but not all of them. The Cadillac Escalade Platinum is first one with all functions in LED.”
“LEDs are the future of lighting when you talk about innovation and new technology,” says Burkhard Hesse, Hella's design and development lighting director in Plymouth, MI.
“It's being introduced in the premium market because these are customers and early adopters who can afford it and are willing to pay for the technology upgrades,” he says.
LED headlamps emit light considerably closer to daylight, improving perception when driving during twilight and darkness, as well as increasing overall driver comfort and safety, Hesse says.
Widdett believes the main customer driver in 2008 will be headlamp styling, influencing the overall vehicle exterior styling.
”Cadillac used the opportunities of the LED technology to enhance their Cadillac-specific vertical appearance — tall and thin — and the dramatic presence of their cars,” he says. “Additionally, the pleasing light color will offer a great product differentiation.”