Audi R8 Exclusive Edition gets laser beam headlights

And only 25 lucky buyers can get them ... for now.

We've long lamented the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's draconian Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, which contrary to their name, have actually prevented automakers from selling some substantial and important safety equipment, like advanced headlights, in the US market. Until now, apparently.

To be fair, we've known Audi was prepping its advanced laser headlights for the US market, but that doesn't make their arrival any less exciting. Audi will begin offering DOT-approved high-beams that use advanced laser diodes on a limited run of V10-powered R8s. Exclusive to the, um, Exclusive Edition R8, the advanced lamps complement the standard LED low beams and dynamic front turn signals, offering "very bright and pure white light" for 25 lucky consumers.

Here's some more techno babble about how the lights work – according to Audi's official release, there's a laser module in each headlight containing four high intensity laser diodes that fire out blue lasers. Then, a phosphor converter adjusts the 450-nanometer laser into visible light that fires up above 40 miles per hour. "When conditions permit," Audi's release reads, the laser high beams "greatly enhance visibility for the driver by projecting a low and wide beam of light on the road ahead."

Naturally, we have questions, but Audi wasn't keen on releasing much info ahead of the R8 Exclusive Edition's Los Angeles Auto Show debut. The company confirmed that the new lights are DOT approved, which makes sense considering the LA introduction. We're also wondering how Audi's new Laser Lights differ from BMW's similarly named Laserlight system, offered on the i8. Both setups use lasers to replace conventional high beams, but BMW says it "adjusted to the maximum allowable light output for the US market." Audi was cagey about explaining if it modified the system to satisfy the feds. Ingolstadt also offered the typical "we don't comment on future product" when asked about future applications for its laser headlight technology.

Beyond the advanced high-beam headlights, the R8 Exclusive Edition comes standard with Quantum Grey paint, 20-inch "Y Design" wheels, a carbon-fiber side blade with an orange stripe, and a whole bunch of interior trim upgrades, like full leather upholstery and Alcantara trim. Price start at $229,200, not counting $1,250 in destination charges. We'll have more on the R8 and its laser lamps when it debuts in a couple weeks.

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