Consultant Daniel Stern is general editor at DrivingVisionNews.com, an industry journal aimed at the automotive lighting segment. He additionally participates in the research and development of U.S., Canadian and international vehicle lighting technical standards and rules.
Stern has written state and provincial vehicle lighting codes and inspection protocols, and has been a product development manager for aftermarket vehicle lights. He owns five unusual cars, and in his spare time he collects technically and historically significant car lights. His home base is in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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He recently answered a series of questions about LED (Light Emitting Diode) systems:
More and more vehicles have LED lighting as original equipment. What does this mean for the aftermarket?
First and foremost, it means all sectors of the aftermarket have to be extra careful not to expose themselves to expensive liability by manufacturing, importing, distributing, selling or installing lighting equipment that doesn’t meet federal safety standards.
Whenever a highly visible new technology starts appearing on new cars – and nothing’s more visible than lighting — naturally people want to join the trend and make their cars look new. They hear about the theoretical benefits of the new technology, but there’s not much talk of the limitations, so everyone thinks they can add it to their car and get an upgrade; there’s a strong demand for retrofits. We saw it with HID kits to convert halogen headlamps to Xenon, and we’re seeing it with LED bulbs and LED replacement light units.
There’s a lot of easy money to be made. But it’s risky business; the problem with all the LED bulbs is the same as the problem with all the HID kits — they’re illegal and dangerous because there’s no way for them to meet the performance requirements specified in Federal (and Canadian) Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108.