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  • Automotive LEDs Now in Headlights

Photonics Spectra
Apr 2008
Anne L. Fischer

At long last, cars are driving off the assembly line with full LED headlights. According to a recently released report from IMS Research of Wellingborough, UK, the Audi R8 and the Lexus LS600h are the two cars to sport LED headlights, and they feature LEDs from just three manufacturers: Osram Opto Semiconductors of Regensburg, Germany, Nichia Corp. of Anan, Japan, and Philips Lumileds Lighting Co. of San Jose, Calif.


The total market for external automotive LEDs is divided into red, amber/yellow and white LEDs. Red LEDs currently dominate the market and will continue to control it through 2014. Yellow shows steady growth, but white will begin to show strong growth in 2009. The “other” category is almost negligible. Data is from IMS Research.

These three companies dominate the global market for automotive LEDs, which include those for rear, instrument cluster and interior lighting. Other suppliers in this sector include Toshiba Corp. of Tokyo, Avago Technologies Ltd. of San Jose, and Everlight Electronics Co. Ltd. of Taipei, Taiwan. The report, titled “The Worldwide Market for LEDs in Automotive Applications,” was published in November.

Osram had about 23 percent of the market for LEDs in vehicle lights in 2007, with Philips Lumileds and Nichia following with about 16 percent each. Although they each have a share of the market, Philips Lumileds and Nichia do not compete directly with one another; the former company provides LEDs mainly for exterior lighting, while the latter provides them for interior lighting. Osram sells into both the interior and exterior markets but is dominant in European applications.

The external automotive lighting market currently is dominated by red LEDs, which are used in brake lights, taillights and high-mounted center stoplights. White LEDs — used in headlights, daytime running lights and other external lights (such as on mirrors) — have a very small share of the market but will become more significant in 2009.

IMS analyst Jamie Fox said that competition will heat up in 2008 and 2009 because the industry leaders all have LEDs with the brightness and quality required for headlights.

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