Article last updated on: Jan 30, 2019

OLED is a new display and lighting technology - used to create thin, efficient and bright displays and lighting panels. OLEDs can be made flexible, and transparent, and so open the way for new, exciting display applications. One of the possible markets for OLEDs is the automotive industry.

LGD 12.3'' P-OLED automotive concept

Where will OLED be used in future cars?

We can see several applications for OLED displays and lighting systems in cars:

  • Dashboard displays (instrument clusters, navigation, media)
  • Heads up displays
  • Internal lighting
  • External lighting (tail lights, turn indicators)
  • Digital rear-view internal mirrors
  • More application we cannot think about today!

    OLED displays for cars today

    Currently we know of several car models that use PMOLED displays in the dashboard. The Lexus 2010 RX for example has a white OLED display, supplementing the main 8" display.

    Some new car concepts are using flexible OLEDs, trying to innovate car displays. LG Display is developing FHD 12.3" curved plastic-based flexible OLEDs, and the company is collaborating with Tesla, Cadillac and Mercedes, promising to start producing those display commercially by 2018.



    Samsung is also developing OLEDs for automotive - including flexible ones and transparent/mirror OLEDs. In 2016 Samsung unveiled several 7" prototype displays, and in 2018 Samsung demonstrated its latest automotive OLEDs, including large rollable and curved displays.

    OLED lighting in cars

    The automotive market is one of the most interesting markets for OLED lighting, and many believe this will be one of the first markets to adopt the next generation lighting technology. In 2016 Audi unveiled the 2016 TT RS, which sports optional OLED taillights - the first commercial car to sport the new lighting technology. Audi says that the 2017 A8 will sport OLED taillights and OLED displays.

    BMW's M4 GTS car uses OLED taillights as well, but this car will only be produced in a very limited quantities. Still BMW said several times that OLEDs may well become the lighting technology of choice due to OLED's flexilibility, efficiency and homogeneity.

    Daimler's 2011 Smart Forvision concept EV uses transparent hybrid solar-OLED panels on the roof. Those hexagonal see-through panels generate energy during the day and provide internal lighting during the night. This is an old concept, but still a very interesting one:

    Daimler Smart Forvision photo

    OLED-Info's Automotive OLEDs Market Report

    If you're interested in this market, check out our market report on Automotive OLEDs. The report discusses the current OLED display and lighting automotive markets, with a complete list of OLED display and lighting makers that are involved with the automotive market, with personal contact details.

    The OLED Automotive Market Report explains:

    • What kind of OLED displays are currently adopted in cars
    • Why OLED lighting is exciting for car makers
    • The future of Automotive OLED display
    • OLED concepts and forecasts by BMW, Audi and others

    Read more here!

    The latest automotive OLED news:

    BOE unveils new OLED displays at SID 2019

    China-based BOE Display has a very ambitious OLED project, and the company unveiled new flexible and automotive OLEDs at SID 2019.

    BOE demonstrated several new automotive OLED technologies including a 12.3" flexible OLED display for the main instrument panel which employs a new pixel compensation circuit technology apparently developed by BOE, which can improve the brightness uniformity of the display.

    Universal Display to show new automotive OLED emitters and an OVJP device prototype

    Universal Display announced that next week during SID DisplayWeek it will demonstrate, for the first time, a PHOLED display device that was produced using the company's OVJP process at its recently-installed pilot line system.

    UDC emitter and host materials photo

    The green OVJP device features a lifetime of over 50,000 hours (LT95) at 1,000 nits. At the tradeshow UDC will also show its latest commercial and development red, yellow, green and blue phosphorescent material systems in its "eco-friendly PHOLED Garden".

    Audi and OLEDWorks to co-develop and implement OLED lighting solutions for the automotive market

    OLEDWorks announced a "predevelopment collaboration" with Audi to advance OLED lighting technology in automotive applications. Audi and OLEDWorks will work together to use OLED lighting and implement it in Audi's future vehicles.

    Audi A8 OLED Rearlights photo

    Audi has been developing and implementing OLED lighting for many years. Back in 2012 Audi partnered with Philips to demonstrate several OLED lighting prototypes. Philips OLED unit was sold to OLEDWorks in 2015. See more about Audi's 2012 and 2013 OLED prototypes here.

    Digitimes: AUO to build a 6-Gen OLED ink-jet printing line

    Digitimes reports that AU Optronics has setup a 3.5-Gen test ink-jet OLED printing line, and the company now intends to start building a 6-Gen production line. AUO will start constructing the line before the end of 2019.

    AUO's Chairman confirmed that the latest advances in printing materials and equipment are starting to make OLED printing viable for commercial use. AUO has not yet decided the schedule for volume production.

    Digitimes: RiTdisplay starts to produce OLED lighting panels

    According to Digitimes, PMOLED display maker RiTdisplay has started to produce flexible OLED lighting panels, targeting the automotive, medical and consumer (home) applications.

    For the automotive market, the RiTdisplay is apparently collaborating with Luminit, through its Taiwan-subsidiary Luminit Automotive Technology. RiTdisplay is holding 30% at LAT which is already starting to supply OLED lighting panels for automotive brake lights and started low-volume shipments in Q1 2019.

    Lumtec starts to produce OLED lighting panels for the automotive market

    Taiwan-based Luminescence Technology (Lumtec) announced that it has started to mass produce OLED lighting panels, targeting mainly the automotive OLED lighting market.

    LumTec automotive OLED lighting at Taipei AMPA 2019

    Lumtec has been developing OLED materials and technologies for many years, and the company has now accelerated its market strategy for OLED lighting, and vertically integrated the business under its "LUMLIGHT" business division.

    LG Display warns of a weak 2019

    LG Display reported disappointing financial results for Q1 2019 - with an operating loss of $113 million. LG Display warns that the whole of 2019 will fall short of expectations - due to high costs of its new OLED fabs, weak LCD panel prices and low adoption of its smartphone OLEDs.

    LGD's smartphone OLED business still suffers from low yields and low fab utilization as the company finds it hard to secure design wins and compete with Samsung Display. Some reports even suggest that LGD is thinking about shutting down its flexible OLED smartphone business.

    MagnaChip launches its 28 nm AMOLED drivers

    OLED driver maker MagnaChip launched its latest 28 nm OLED Display Driver IC for smartphone displays. MagnaChip says that it is using the world's most advanced process for OLED drivers, which enables it to achieve a 20% reduction in form factor compared to its previous 40 nm process.

    In addition to the size reduction, the new process also enabled MagnaChip to reduce the voltage from 1.1V to 1V, which reduces the power consumption by more than 20%, and it also reduces the EMI levels (again, by 20%) which improves the phone's call quality.

    Business Korea - LG may decide to shut down its flexible OLED smartphone business to focus on automotive OLED displays

    LG Display currently produces flexible OLEDs (branded as pOLEDs), for both wearable devices and smartphones, is the exclusive supplier of AMOLED displays for Apple's Watch smartwatch (although this could change soon) and it also supplies OLED displays for various smartphones, including the company's own flagship phones.LG V40 ThinQ photo

    LG Display has been struggling, though - with low yields, poor display quality and securing orders. According to a new report from Business Korea, there is some skepticism regarding the viability of this business - including some inside LG Display's management itself.

    ETNews: LG Display to focus on automotive OLED lighting and not quit the OLED lighting market completely

    A couple of weeks ago we reported that LG Display has decided to quit the OLED lighting market, as it found it difficult to ramp out production and lower its production costs. It was not clear what's the future of LGD's automotive OLED lighting business, but now we have an update from Korea.

    LG Electronics OLED Taillights (2017)

    According to ETNews, LG display has indeed found it difficult to win orders for its consumer OLED lighting products, and has decided to "reduce" its Luflex OLED lighting product line. LGD, however, is not quitting the OLED lighting market - but is stepping up its efforts to supply automotive OLED lighting solutions.