Why Is America Stuck with Bad Headlights?
A drive in a European-market 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S with matrix LEDs shows just how dumb our headlights are in the U.S.
- These days, there isn't usually much difference between a U.S.-market car and one destined for Europe, but the European Turbo S includes a major feature forbidden to us here: LED matrix headlights. Now I'm totally ruined for our dumb old lamps, for I have literally seen the light. And we can't have it.
- So why can you get them in Munich but not Milwaukee? At issue is Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108, which has defined our headlights since 1967. And ol' FMVSS 108 set out rules that only defined high-beams and low-beams, because back then we didn't have Willy Wonka headlights that can go sideways, and slantways, and longways, and backways.
- There is hope, however. Toyota has petitioned NHTSA to change the rule, allowing adaptive headlight systems.