Light emitting diodes have been an option in automotive lighting for more than 15 years now. The capacities and colours
of LEDs available in the recent past were sufficient to realize interior lighting and rear signalling functions. In the
meantime, series applications, such as position or daytime running lights, using white LEDs for signal functions in
headlamps, are no longer a rarity. The next step - realizing main lighting functions for series applications - is imminent.
LED will offer a multitude of styling options in rear and front lighting, as well as a light colour which differs
considerably from that of the previous halogen and xenon headlamp systems. The further advantages of the LED
compared with conventional light sources with regard to service life, power efficiency and package space requirements
can thus only be sensibly exploited by means of suitable structural and connection techniques. Increasing complexity and
installation conditions in an often rough environment are demanding challenge to realize the hardware of LED lamps.
In this paper at first the requirements on LEDs and LED modules in automotive exterior lighting will be discussed.
Furthermore the status of industrialization and modular concepts for signal lamps and full LED headlamps will be
presented. The paper will finish with a discussion of new headlamp active lighting functions like maker light or glare
free high beam, implemented in hybrid or with pure LED technology. In the subsequent headlamp integration, from
about 2012, freely-addressable LED-Arrays will possibly enable these new types of lighting functions.