Polestar 2 owners in the US could get clever new LED headlight features, assuming federal safety regulators ever get around to giving the technology the green-light. The recently-released electric car finds itself in the same holding pattern as some recent Audi models, with technology available outside of the US simply not unlocked for American drivers.
In this case, it’s the Polestar 2’s Pixel LED headlamps. Fitted as standard on the Polestar 2 Launch Edition – and likely to be available, if not standard, on other future Polestar 2 trims – they use clusters of LEDs rather than a single light source.
84 individual LEDs are used as pixels building up a matrix in each lamp cluster. The car can control each pixel individually, both for an animation that activates when the EV is unlocked, but also when on the road. That way, drivers can leave their high beam lights on, but the Polestar 2 can selectively shade the light in the path of oncoming drivers so as not to dazzle them.
Polestar says that the technology can accommodate up to five oncoming vehicles, and will work fully automatically. At least, that is, if you’re driving a Polestar 2 outside of the US.
American safety regulators, unfortunately, don’t permit such fancy lighting. It means that, though the Polestar 2 models sold in the US do in fact have the Pixel LED technology installed, it won’t actually work on the road. It’s the same situation that Audi has found itself in with its Digital Matrix LED headlamps.
As with the Polestar lighting, Audi’s system allows individual control of the multiple sources of light within each headlamp. That allows it to control the lights according to surrounding traffic and pedestrians, as well as to create a “carpet” of light ahead of the car within its lane.
What Polestar can offer now, however, is its full-width rear light bar. That includes 288 LEDs in a panel spanning the trunk. There’s also cornering lighting using the front fog lights, to help illuminate around corners as you turn the wheel.
Like Audi has said in the past, Polestar is promising that – should laws in the US change to allow the technology – it can enable the Pixel LED lighting on existing Polestar 2 cars via an over-the-air (OTA) update. The architecture of the EV is designed to be readily upgradable using software pushes, much in the way that we’ve seen Tesla make frequent use of. Of course, that all depends on regulators getting up to speed with the new tech, and while automakers have petitioned that for safety reasons, there’s still no sign of it actually happening.