Cars are becoming less and less like cars.
At present, the automobile industry is developing in the direction of "new four modernizations". The so-called new four modernizations, that is, electrification, networking, intelligence, and sharing—based on "electricization" and using "networking" as a link to collect big data, and finally realize "intelligence" and "sharing" ” way of travel. Under this trend, people are surprised that cars are no longer just a means of transportation, but more and more have the attributes of digital products.
On the other hand, as an important medium for human-vehicle interaction and an important manifestation of the car‘s sense of future and technology, the car screen is also showing developments such as large-screen, multi-screen, high-definition, interactive, low-energy consumption, and multi-modal. According to the trend, automotive screens have become the fifth largest small and medium-sized panel market after mobile phones, tablets, notebooks, and Monitors.
However, it is still unclear which technical solution should be adopted for the future vehicle screen.
LCD is now, who is the future?
As a mature display technology, LCD has established a relatively complete standard system, with stable quality, guaranteed production capacity, and obvious cost advantages. It is currently the mainstream technology for vehicle-mounted screens.
However, with the advent of the "new four modernizations" of automobiles, LCD technology cannot meet the needs of high-end automobiles for display systems due to the shortcomings of insufficient brightness output, rapid temperature rise, and limited visual effects. In this context, OLED, Mini LED, and Micro LED have begun to highlight their technological advantages, and they have launched an attack on the car screen.
Each of the three technologies has advantages and disadvantages. Among them, OLED is an organic self-luminous display technology, which has the advantages of good display effect, low power consumption, high flexibility and ultra-thin, and has been applied in high-end cars. The central control screen is changed to a waterfall-style large screen, using a 12.8-inch vertical waterfall-style OLED screen; the Mercedes-Benz EQS uses an integrated large screen from the A-pillar to the A-pillar, and the touch screen is a flexible OLED.
The main suppliers of OLED car screens are Samsung, LG Display, BOE, etc. However, after years of development of OLED, the problem of screen burn-in has not been solved, and the lifespan of OLED blue light is generally low, which hinders the further development of OLED screens in the automotive field.
Mini LED can be used with flexible substrates to realize curved display design, improve screen brightness and contrast, and increase flexibility for screen design. However, compared with OLED technology, Mini LED technology is thicker and cannot be bent significantly.
It should be noted that the Mini LED technology suitable for vehicle screens is the Mini LED backlight technology, not the Mini LED direct display technology. This is mainly because the viewing distance of the car screen is relatively short, while the distance between the Mini LED direct display technology is large, and the pixels are more obvious when viewed at a close distance. The LED direct display solution of the car screen needs to reach the Micro level.
Micro LED is a miniaturized and matrixed LED technology, which has greater advantages in terms of brightness, resolution, contrast, energy consumption, service life, response speed and thermal stability. However, Micro LED technology is difficult, has a low yield rate, and is expensive, and has not yet reached the standard for mass production.
Vehicle-mounted displays require high brightness, long life, fast response time, and a wide range of high and low temperatures, and have high requirements for display technology. As far as the current level of development is concerned, the three technologies of OLED, Mini LED backlight, and Micro LED all have certain limitations, but in comparison, OLED technology is now popular and is a relatively mature technology, while Mini LED backlight , Micro LED is still in the early stages of the industry, product performance has a large room for improvement, and production costs are expected to continue to decline, growth can be expected, so it will become a "popular player" in vehicle display technology in the future, and capital and technology place high hopes on it.
Mini LED backlight, Micro LED small steps
It can be seen that whether it is an international company or a Chinese company, whether it is a panel manufacturer or a traditional LED manufacturer, they are actively deploying Mini LED backlight and Micro LED technologies and products for vehicles.
On the other hand, due to the high technical difficulty, industrial chain enterprises are also working together to overcome industrial difficulties through win-win cooperation.
Among them, Shenzhen Tianma held the "2021 Micro LED Ecological Alliance Conference" in December 2021. At the meeting, Shenzhen Tianma teamed up with upstream suppliers, downstream car companies and university research institutions to form a Micro LED ecological alliance to accelerate the application of Micro LED in the field of vehicle display. At the event site, Shentianma also released a variety of new products such as Micro LED screens with a bending radius of 5 mm, Micro LED screens with a transparency rate of over 70%, Micro LED splicing unit screens, and automotive-grade high-resolution Micro LED screens.
Shen Tianma and Ni Chuang have also established a close cooperative relationship. In 2019, Shentianma demonstrated a 7.56-inch AM Micro LED display with a transmittance of over 60% at SID Display Week 2019; at Opto Taiwan 2021, Nitron demonstrated an 11.6-inch automotive Micro LED display. These two products are jointly developed by both parties.
In addition, Nitron also reached a cooperation with AUO in April 2020 to invest in the research and development of Micro LED display technology; in December 2020, it signed a four-year long-term cooperation plan with Taiwan Industrial Technology Research Institute, focusing on Micro LED in AR and MR. The device and the application on the vehicle panel will focus on cooperation.
Longli Technology has also welcomed allies in the panel field. In April 2021, the small and medium-sized display technology development joint innovation laboratory jointly built by Wuhan Huaxing and Longli Technology was officially unveiled. The joint innovation laboratory is committed to the research and development of cutting-edge technologies in the backlight display industry, focusing on the development of Mini LED technology. The application fields of the products include mobile phones, tablets, notebooks, vehicles, VR and AR wearable displays, etc.
Also as a panel company, BOE established a joint venture company BOEPixey with Rohinni in 2019 to develop Micro LED solutions for display backlighting, initially targeting large consumer electronics (above 32 inches), industrial and automotive markets.
For Mini/Micro LED supply chain companies, although the certification time for the niche application product of the vehicle screen is long, the product life cycle is long, the technology content is high, and the profit margin is high. battleground".
However, Micro LED technology is too difficult, and there is no mass-produced car equipped with Micro LED technology yet, while Mini LED is already on the eve of application. For example, the Weilai ET7 officially released in January 2021 uses BOE (BOE) 10.2 inch HDR MiniLED backlit digital gauges.
In addition, Mini LED screens can also be applied to the exterior of the car body to add interest to the car‘s design. The first model of the high-end brand Sharon under Great Wall, Mechalong, will be officially unveiled in November 2021. The rear of this model adopts smart taillights equipped with Mini LED external display screen technology, which can freely define the displayed content.
The car screen becomes a key for Mini/Micro LED to open up the growth space. It is conceivable that when Mini/Micro LED is further matured, especially when Micro LED breaks through the bottleneck of existing technology, it will surely become a strong competitor in the OLED automotive display market. (Text: LEDinside Lynn)