What Your Next Pickup Truck and Flat Screen TV Could Have in Common

What Your Next Pickup Truck and TV Could Have in Common

Today’s trucks use all kinds of 21st-century technology to make towing and hauling easier, safer and more efficient than ever — trailer-sway control, clean and powerful diesel engines and hands-free phone and advanced navigation systems to name a few.

But the exterior lighting we use to see what’s happening when it’s dark still relies on the same technology your grandfather’s truck used. That’s about to change.

GMC’s Sierra All Terrain HD Concept recently made waves with enthusiasts and the media because of its proposed off-road capabilities. While it’s uncertain if the truck, or something similar, will make it to production, one of its features almost certainly will: LED lighting.

Inside the Sierra All Terrain HD’s cargo box were three remarkable light strips running across the front and side walls. Instead of using incandescent bulbs, these lamps used edge-lit light emitting diodes.

LEDs are a relatively new innovation for vehicles. They were first used in brake lights about a decade ago and have expanded their use to daytime running lights and headlight replacements as new technology has increased their brightness and reduced cost.

The reasons behind the move to LED lights are durability, improved efficiency and lower power consumption compared with conventional light bulbs.

The Sierra All Terrain HD did something new with LEDs that we haven’t seen in other vehicles, and it supersedes previous truck lightning solutions. Instead of using one or two high-mounted conventional cargo lamps — like most full-size pickups have bookending their cab-mounted center brake light, or corner lights near the tailgate, like in the Honda Ridgeline — the Sierra All Terrain HD used a few LED bulbs as so-called “light engines” and combined that with highly reflective mirror-like tubes to direct the light around the cargo box. The result was a preview of how to illuminate every corner of a bed even if the cargo box is carrying items that would normally block light from a single source.

The Sierra All Terrain HD's headlights use edge-lit LEDs too. Note the GMC logo etched in center of the stack.

Edge-lit LED technology is used in the latest televisions, where it also reduces energy consumption and reduces case thickness by eliminating extra LEDs that would be needed if the screen were backlit.

A pickup truck can benefit from the same technology.

Edge-lit LEDs can be easily molded and recessed to fit almost anywhere in the cargo box while needing only a single diode to provide light. Cargo moving around might scratch the reflective surface, but it won’t damage the LED source or block the light emanating from another point in an LED tube.

LEDs last longer and can me much more efficient than conventional bulbs. A three-watt LED is equivalent in output to about a 45-watt incandescent bulb, meaning if you’re loading a truck and don’t want to worry about running down the battery, LEDs can stay illuminated with minimal drain on the truck’s electrical system when the engine isn’t running.

But we see uses for LEDs outside of the cargo box. The Sierra All Terrain HD also used edge-lit LEDs for its headlights. We could also see them blended into the exterior sides of the cargo box to provide plenty of light in a dark field at night without requiring the engine to idle, saving fuel too.

When it comes to this technology, the Sierra All Terrain HD is just a hint of what’s to come and what we expect to see in the next generation of full-size pickup trucks.



Great technology! I can't wait to see this stuff used across the board in other areas and by all brands.

Yeah I agree, This is a great move for all Cars and Trucks.

These type of lights will reduce the load on the alternator and that will help fuel milage. Every bit helps. They look like they can take on any shape as the designers have done with this GMC. The front lights look good.

nothing new for me. i love running lights and the look of big rigs, i have the recon big rig lights under my doors of my silverado, and i put some weatherproof amber strips running inside the whole bed lenght.(8ft) my neighbor copied my idea, figures...

uhhh ahhh pretty lights gm.

GM should at least have LED tail/brake lights in more models already. But, I must admit those LED headlights look awesome.

Been waiting for something like this to make it to production for a long time. Better lighting! Heads and tails need it and the LED lighting inside the cargo bed is an innovative idea. Hopefully they don't forget about reverse lights, almost every vehicle I've ever had I've always wished that they had reverse lights that had more output. LED perimeter lighting on a pickup truck would be a nice option too, as long as it can stay small and indiscrete, but still put out a lot of light. Hope you manufacturers are listening!

Well, I should say that GM is not that satisfying this time. But one thing is for sure, these type of lights will reduce the load on the alternator and that will help fuel milage. Every bit helps.

Sorry but this is nothing new...German automakers have been using this technology for almost two years now.But let's hope GM will make use of this technology in the next gen of pickuptrucks.

Well, we expected nothing but the best from the leader.

What will happen the first time something hits against the bed wall? Never mind, someone who spends this much money on a truck will probably never put anything in it.

Toyota has been putting stock LED tailights in the Tacoma for two years, hate it or love it! It's about time everyone else (or GM) caught up!

Skinner: You are probably right, sadly. look at the ones that cruise the roads these days, pearly new paint in the bed. Curb appeal at its finest!

Will GM finally drop red turn signals, permanently?

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