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Electronics Production | December 17, 2007

LED growth in the Automotive sector

The car is becoming an ever more important home for light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as an alternative to incandescent light bulbs and halogen and xenon lamps.
Their importance is set to explode, doubling from a $0.65 billion business in 2006 to $1.3 billion within 10 years. This is one important conclusion from a recently published report, “LEDs in Automotive Applications”, from IMS Research.

Today most of the value comes from applications inside the car, such as backlighting dashboards and displays, and supplying a wide range of indicator lamps. However the LED value from external lamps will rise from a third of the LED total to over a half by 2013. Most external LED lamps are at the rear, as brake, tail and turning lights. However, according to analyst Jamie Fox: “Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) will become much more widely used in the future. The DRL business will grow from under $5 million last year to over $100 million by 2013.”

Not all cars use DRLs. In some countries, such as Canada, Finland and Sweden, they are obligatory. In other countries, such as the USA, they are not required but are used on many vehicles. In some countries, such as the UK, they are little used. However DRL use is growing overall. EU studies have concluded that DRLs save lives and a law requiring DRL use throughout the EU is widely anticipated.

Daytime Running Lights will offer a good opportunity for LEDs, according to Fox. “LED DRLs have long lifetime and low power consumption as well as an attractive appearance.” LED DRLs, which were first introduced on the Audi A8 in 2004, are currently used on less than 1% of vehicles. However, IMS Research forecasts that, with very strong growth after 2009, the market revenues for LED DRLs in the next decade will be similar to revenues for LEDs for functions used in rear lighting applications today. DRLs are the application that will lead the way for LEDs to move forward from the rear of the vehicle into front lighting.

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