Panel makers gear up for automotive screens

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LCD display manufacturers around the world are increasing their efforts to develop automotive displays and related solutions, believing that the developments of these products will help them get rid of the current economic crisis.

Most panel makers have struggled so far this year as unfavorable macroeconomic environments, such as the war in Ukraine and rising inflation, have weakened demand for consumer electronics, including televisions, laptops and handsets, leading to lower panel sales.

Falling demand for consumer electronics has triggered the largest inventory correction ever seen in the supply chain, prompting end-market brand suppliers in many segments to adjust lower shipment targets for 2022.

According to data from market research firms, global LCD monitor shipments are likely to decline at an annual rate of 3.5% to 140 million units in 2022. Meanwhile, TV sales are expected to decline by 3 .8% to 200 million units, laptops will drop 10.3% to 220 million units, and handset sales will drop 3.5% to 1.31 billion units.

Regarding lower shipments for consumer panel applications, Omdia has also revised its forecasted shipment growth rate for automotive displays to 5% in 2022 from 9.9% previously, with related shipment volume ahead. fall to 197 million units against 207 million previously forecast.

Omdia attributed the revision to supply chain disruption for light vehicle production caused by the war, China’s city lockdown measures in the second quarter and the shortage of automotive chips. However, he expects the supply chain to gradually recover from the second half of 2022 as demand for in-vehicle displays rebounds.

Data from Omdia showed that global shipments of automotive displays reached 47.4 million units in the first quarter of 2022, which was below its previous expectations.

Despite the downgrade, the automotive display segment will remain one of the key display applications that will maintain growth in 2022, attracting panel makers to expand their presence in the sector.

Panel makers turn to automotive applications

With growing concerns over macro environments, rising inventory and falling end-market demand, Taiwan-based panel makers including AU Optronics (AUO), Innolux and HannStar Display are optimistic about the outlook. automotive screens.

AUO Chairman Paul Peng said he expects auto sales to grow steadily in the second half of 2022, mainly due to improved supply chain operations and shortages of materials. Coupled with the rapid growth of the electric vehicle (EV) and self-driving car markets, Peng asserted that the automotive display market is poised to generate mid to long-term growth.

With clear control visibility in the electric vehicle and autonomous driving sectors and for large automotive applications, Peng said AUO will expand its investment in automotive display development, including technological advancements, product developments and capacity increases.

AUO will also focus on the LTPS platform and integrate related technologies such as touch control, profile cutting and lamination while working with automakers to move forward with system integration to realize more differentiation. AUO expects more automotive display products to proliferate in 2023-2024.

Innolux Chairman Jim Hung is also optimistic about the outlook for automotive displays, noting that the company increased the proportion of its automotive revenue to 11.7% of total sales in the second quarter of 2022 from 6.3%. one year earlier.

In 2007, Hung noted that the automotive central information display (CID) unit typically included a 7-inch instrument cluster and a 10.3-inch CID screen. The setting has evolved to a combination of 12.3 and 14.9 inches in 2021 and a 34-inch integrated CID display in 2022.

Hung expects integrated CID displays with sizes over 20 inches available at triple the price of traditional units to become a consumer technology, which Innolux will strive to grow and expects shipments of related automotive screens account for more than 50% of total sales.

Innolux has created a subsidiary, CarUX, which will target emerging smart vehicle business opportunities. Hung said the Innolux-CarUX team will focus on developing large information display (LID) products for applications including intelligent cockpit display systems (ICDS).

ICDS will integrate various control units, including image, communications, human-machine interface, driving monitoring and safety guidance, through related optoelectronic-mechanical, software and hardware technologies to offer drivers the best automotive cockpit experience.

James Yang, President of Innolux, pointed out that CarUX will strive to become the market leader in large-scale integrated automotive displays, as high-end vehicles have begun to adopt such integrated models and associated shipments. will increase at a CAGR of 49% from 2020-2026.

CarUX will move towards modularizing the production of integrated automotive displays, integrating the functionality of central information display (CID), dashboards and passenger monitoring systems, Yang said.

Second-tier panel maker HannStar Display also wants to develop display products for automotive applications, according to company vice president Wu Hsu-ho.

HannStar has entered its third phase of automotive display development, using a-Si (amorphous silicon) technology for consumer production. The company expects automotive displays to contribute 30-50% to revenue growth in 2023.

Technology change

However, according to data from Omdia, shipments of a-Si-based LCD automotive panels were down 3% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022, while LTPS-based and oxide-based automotive panels were both down. experienced significant growth over the same period.

Omdia expects automotive display production to rapidly migrate to LTPS and Oxide technologies, with their related shipments increasing by 76.3% and 172% respectively in 2022 compared to the previous year.

The technology shift is mainly due to the rapid growth in demand for large-sized integrated touchscreen CID displays, which has prompted more panel makers to shift their 6G LTPS lines to large-sized automotive displays instead of focusing previously on handset apps.

According to industry observers, with AMOLED panels now replacing LTPS panels as mainstream handset applications, the production of automotive displays has become the primary application for LTPS lines.

LG Display closed its P5 a-Si LCD factory in July and shifted its automotive display production to its AP3 6G factory, which will have a capacity of 25,000 glass substrates per month by the end of the year. year 2022. The factory uses LTPS technology.

Meanwhile, Japan Display (JDI), Sharp and Taiwan-based panel makers have also increased the proportion of automotive displays on their respective LTPS lineups.

China-based panel makers are relatively behind the LTPS segment and are moving fast. While China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT) has started LTPS automotive panel shipments since the first quarter of 2022, BOE Technology and Tianma Micro-electronics will start accelerating their LTPS automotive displays in 2023. And panel maker a-Si Truly Optoelectronics is scheduled to begin shipping LTPS models in Q4 2023.

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