So far, Audi has had little success in getting the rules changed to suit its technology. The company hoped that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would interpret its existing rules to allow Audi's Matrix Beam headlights, which project a high beam but dim automatically upon sensing oncoming traffic.
But then Toyota sent NHTSA a petition asking the agency to rewrite its lighting regulations. Under the subtleties of U.S. law, Audi's request was superseded by Toyota's petition, triggering a formal review that could take years -- and giving competitors plenty of time to catch up.
"We lost a lot of time," Berlitz said. "Now we are not able to go the fast way."
Audi is hoping for better luck with the turn signals. Berlitz said he will meet next month with NHTSA to seek special dispensation for Audi's version.
The regulators do not judge on style points. So Audi is playing up safety in hopes of a favorable ruling. Berlitz says Audi's amber turn signals, which light up in the direction of the turn, make it easier to tell which way a car is turning and easier to differentiate among brake lights, hazard lights and turn signals.
"It's intuitive, and it's really a safety advantage," he said. "We did some investigations. It's between half a second and one second earlier that you recognize something."
Audi says the industry would benefit if U.S. lighting rules were more flexible.
"Of course, we have an interest to get our system allowed," Berlitz said. "But actually, we are fighting for the complete automotive world."