They sure look sporty, but are car headlamps not supposed to shine white?
Road regulations guarding the colour of car headlamps are clear in most countries: “Cars may illuminate the road with white light.” But the mad new BMW M5 CS has yellow headlamps. So how can they be legal?
YELLOW LIGHTS ARE CONTENTIOUS
The CS has yellow headlights to go with its gold bronze kidney grille, which has had many asking why, if the rules say this, why has BMW done that?
There’s nothing new about yellow headlamps. According to Wikipedia, “historically, yellow headlights were found in Sweden in particular to make vehicles stand out better in the twilight of winter. “A yellowish light was even mandatory for all front lighting in France until 1993.” Which is why you may recall them from Volvos or Peugeot and even Renault’s new retro electric R5 — but that’s just a concept for now.
BMW M’s take however has nothing to do with snow — it’s the GT3 racer look it wants for its Nürburgring inspired Nordschleife honed CS super saloon. So how does the BMW M5 CS gain approval for these law challenging headlamps that even Audi design boss Marc Lichte considers ‘cool’?
EVEN AUDI’s DESIGN BOSS DIGS THEM!
Well, there are actually two loopholes in the law. See, first of all, those L-shaped light tubes only shine yellow when the lights are dipped and main beams are off. Paragraph 50 of Europe’s Road Traffic Licensing Regulations states: “Only white light may be used to illuminate the roadway.”
Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority makes another interesting point: “The light yellow LED strip is in the permissible colour range of a fog light,” even adding that. “When the lowor high beam is switched on, this LED strip cannot be measured, so it has no influence on the specified and prescribed white light colour.”
The answer also is clear in the M5 CS press kit. See the headlamps only burn, “in a striking yellow colour when they light up as daytime running lights.” So when the main low and high beams come on, the tubes then shine as white position lights in the usual white, they switch to a when using the beams. Which means they only shine yellow when they are not illuminating the road.
A RAINBOW FO DRIVING LIGTHS COMING?
All of which means we should expect these yellow daytime lights to become a future BMW M CS fixture. And who knows qhat colours will follow on other BMW applications in future?