Laser Lights for the BMW i8 Coming to the US this November, with Limited Functionality

bmw i8 headlight 1 photo
Photo: Catalin Garmacea
If you were ever interested in the i8 and its innovative functions and you live in the US, you might’ve noticed some weird things. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest innovations this car brings to the automotive world is missing from the list of optional features on this side of the Atlantic.
Of course, we’re talking about laser lights. BMW put a lot of work into launching them, and there was a fierce competition with Audi to see who can become the first manufacturer to offer them on a production car. As it turned out, the Munich-based manufacturer claimed the win in the end.

It was a victory that couldn’t be enjoyed by US citizens though because, for some legal reason, laser lights were (and still are) banned from public roads. As far as we can tell, the reason might be because they are considered medical devices.

According to the new info, though, it looks like they will get approval for sale this November but they won’t be the same as in Europe. Apparently, they will be a modified version with different specs.

Compared to LED lights, lasers can illuminate at distances up to 600 meters which is three times farther. The US versions will apparently be able to do the same at distances up to 400 meters which is only double the distance covered by LEDs. Furthermore, the headlights will not have the blue lights seen on European cars inside them. And yes, retrofitting will be possible but it will be extremely expensive.

That might not seem like a big deal right now. After all, there are only a couple hundred i8s in the US as we’re writing this, and you could think that the people driving them couldn’t care less. On top of that, the i8 headlights don’t even have selective beam so they might not be worth the effort.

However, the recently launched BMW 7 Series has these as the optional choice. On the new flagship, they are also available with the Selective Beam, so this has become a problem bigger than the i8. That’s also why we think it will be solved by November, when the new 7er will go on sale as BMW can’t afford not to offer this feature for one of its biggest markets in the world.

That also leaves us wondering if the same rules will apply to these headlights as well. Will they too be limited in appearance and design? Let's hope not!
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