New HP LEDs To Replace Incandescents In Automotive Taillamps

New SnapLED Assembly Provides a Cost-effective Solution to Create Thin Taillamps

Detroit, Michigan. February 26, 1996

Hewlett-Packard Company today introduced the HP SnapLED assembly, the automotive industry's first cost-effective LED taillamp technology, which enables automotive manufacturers to design integrated exterior taillamp, stop lamps and turn lamps using LED technology instead of traditional incandescent lamps. The announcement was made here at the Society of Automotive Engineers Congress.

"The SnapLED assembly is a leapfrog technology, enabling our LED lighting to penetrate the taillamp, stop-lamp and turn-lamp market, which historically has been the exclusive domain of incandescent bulbs," said Milt Liebhaber, general manager of HP's Optoelectronics Division. "The SnapLED assembly improves automotive safety and reliability while cutting design and assembly costs and providing design flexibility for automotive manufacturers."

The design of the SnapLED assembly offers benefits to automotive designers, manufacturers and consumers alike.

The SnapLED assembly employs the world's brightest LED material, HP's TS AlInGaP technology. The brightness of these LEDs radically reduces the total quantity of LEDs typically required to perform the taillamp and stop-lamp function. Additionally, the SnapLED assembly is a flexible LED array that conforms to the shape of the vehicle, allowing thin-taillamp assembly.

Advantages for Vehicle Manufacturers

The SnapLED assembly's thin design and innovative fastening process are expected to greatly affect vehicle-body designs and significantly reduce design and manufacturing costs.

The thin structure of the SnapLED assembly enables vehicle-body-design engineers to eliminate the deep cavities in the car body required for incandescent taillamps. With the SnapLED assembly, the sheet metal can be formed with a pocket into which the LED assembly is fastened. This eliminates the expensive sheet-metal tooling and assembly costs associated with the body cutouts required for incandescent bulbs. Eliminating the cavity cutouts also allows vehicle manufacturers to increase trunk space.

Vehicle manufacturers also are expected to benefit from the SnapLED assembly's energy-efficient design. LEDs consume less power than incandescent bulbs. This frees up electrical power for other systems in the vehicle. Technologies that decrease power consumption contribute to an increase in overall fuel economy.

Advantages for Automotive-lighting Designers

The SnapLED assembly is expected to enable taillight designs that could not be achieved with previous technologies. The assembly gives designers more flexibility to provide a differentiating appearance for vehicles.

The assembly enables uniform lighting of uniquely shaped taillamps and also accommodates the curvature of the vehicle body. Additionally, the LEDs are available in both red-orange and amber. Since the LEDs emit true red-orange and amber colors, they are not dependent on lens color. This eases the red and amber lens-color restrictions required for incandescent signal lamps and designs.

Advantages for Automotive Consumers

For consumers, the SnapLED assembly is expected to help increase safety on the road. Unlike incandescent bulbs, LEDs have an instantaneous rise time or switching speed. According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institue, motorists respond more quickly to LEDs, improving braking response time by several car lengths at highway speeds. This feature has been shown to help reduce vehicle collisions.

The SnapLED assembly also is expected to last the lifetime of the automobile, virtually eliminating the need for warranties and replacements.


The HP SnapLED assembly is expected to be available in April in Asia, Europe and the United States with some standard-sized modules available for sale and sampling. The actual cost will vary upon design and will provide approximately a $2 to $15 savings per car to manufacturers over incandescent bulb assemblies.

The first vehicle to use the SnapLED assembly is expected to hit the road in mid-1997.

HP's LEDs are currently applied in automotive exterior-lighting designs for center high-mount stop lamps (CHMSL). Other HP LED automotive applications include interior-lighting applications, such as clusters and switches. HP LEDs also are used extensively in exterior-lighting applications in the heavy-vehicle industry for use in sidemarkers and taillamps.

Last month, HP created the Automotive Lighting Organization, an operation within the Optoelectronics Division. The new organization was established to enable HP to provide a dedicated support structure for its automotive customers.

Hewlett-Packard Company is a leading global manufacturer of computing, communications and measurement products and services recognized for excellence in quality and support. HP has 105,200 employees and had revenue of $31.5 billion in its 1995 fiscal year.

Information about HP and its products can be found on the World Wide Web at

Information in this release applies specifically to products available in the United States. Product availability and specifications may vary in non-U.S. markets.

(c) Copyright 1995 Hewlett-Packard Company.