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  • LEDs Expected to Light More Automobiles

Photonics Spectra
Apr 2008
Michael A. Greenwood

The market for LEDs in automobiles is expected to grow in the coming years as global manufacturers increasingly turn to the technology to meet a myriad of lighting needs.


Automotive LEDs are projected to account for 28 percent of all LEDs produced globally in 2008. Courtesy of Frost & Sullivan.

The firm of Frost & Sullivan in Palo Alto, Calif., recently released a market study projecting that automotive lighting in 2008 will account for 28 percent of all LEDs produced globally. In 2002, that figure was 18 percent. The agency also projects that revenue from the global LED automotive market will swell from slightly more than $600 million this year to approximately $1.1 billion by 2014.

The agency identified a number of advantages LEDs have over other lighting systems commonly used in cars, including high-intensity discharge and filament lighting. LEDs are smaller, use relatively little power, have a long lifetime (>50,000 h compared with <25,000 h), are reliable and have an instant reaction time, according to the study.

But LEDs are not without their problems. The study identifies the price of the devices as one of the major factors limiting their spread. However, the agency stipulated that, in many cases, the benefits of LEDs outweigh the extra cost, and that efforts are under way to bring down prices. Comparative prices could be achieved by 2010. The report also said that LEDs still must meet the forward lighting standards set by various governments, and that improvements must be made in the devices’ thermal management.

The study identified several trends in the LED market for automobiles, including that nearly 90 percent of European car manufacturers currently use LEDs for internal lighting. Additionally, LEDs account for about 8 to 10 percent of tail- and rear lighting in high-end and midrange cars, and Asian/Pacific manufacturers increasingly are using LEDs in automotive applications. The study also concluded that LED use in headlights is still relatively untapped and is found only in higher-end luxury cars.

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