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Bolstered by the green, sustainable trend, sales and market share of electric vehicles (EVs) continue to rise. Automobile manufacturers are racing to develop and produce new energy vehicles, which boost the demand for automotive LEDs.
While the general automotive world saw LED headlight penetration exceeded 60% in 2021, the penetration surpassed 90% in the new energy vehicle category, according to survey conducted by TrendForce. As the automobile market recovers with increasing shipment and LED illumination penetration grows, TrendForce estimated the automotive LED market would expand 31.8% year on year to US$ 3.51 billion in 2021. Automotive LED applications consist mostly of external illumination such as high/low beam headlight and turn signals as well as internal display panels.
Matrix LED highlight enables smart applications
As LEDs get smaller, smart applications of LED headlights mushroom. Most available adaptive driving beam (ADB) headlights are based on matrix LEDs with 12-100 LEDs. By controlling each high-performance LED, the design effectively helps driver reaction time and nighttime field of view due to improved road illumination. Furthermore, ADB headlights are more effective in preventing glare from shining into the eyes of drivers in incoming cars. Automotive manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo, Tesla, Lexus, Mazda, Opel and WEY are actively promoting the technology. ADB headlights can turn on or off based on the condition. They can even work with sensors and smart applications to improve driver safety and optimize self-driving technology. ADB headlight’s penetration is expected to jump to 6.5% in 2025 from 2.1% in 2021, according to TrendForce.
Now automakers want ADB headlights with more pixels, which not only help illumination but also enable projection. Moreover, the technology has many different applications around the vehicle. For example, it can project road borders in front of the vehicle to help people drive in fog and at night. By projecting in the back of the vehicle, it can warn following vehicles and pedestrians against turning or stopping. It can even project the vehicle brand and game contents for safety and entertainment.
LED Drivers meet diverse application and vehicle safety demand
With the popularity of smart application-equipped EVs, interior features are diversifying. International automakers are forced to balance user-friendly features and car safety. As the features get more sophisticated, electronic circuit may generate more electromagnetic interference (EMI). Therefore, electronics parts and components suppliers will have to tune their solutions to meet more stringent regulations.
To address the issue, LED driver maker Macroblock developed the new automotive IC MBI6659Q. By optimizing internal components, Macroblock was able to streamline the PCB design and equip the IC with the jitter function to minimize EMI. While OEMs continue to address market trend with improved lighting design and new LEDs, Macroblock boosted the driver current to 2.5A and voltage to 45V. The enhanced flexibility enables new smart headlight possibilities. The applications include daytime running light, positioning light, fog light, rear light, brake light and interior ambient light.
Targeting innovative headlight applications enabled by EVs, Macroblock announced MBI6665Q with built-in low-dropout (LDO) regulator, which can directly supply current to the microcontrollers (MCUs). This simplifies circuit design and supports dimming as car door opens and closes. With the driver, turn signals and stop lights can work together to illuminate LEDs sequentially for ambiance, enhancing automotive lighting design flexibility and driving richer smart applications (Visit https://bit.ly/33OVYFw for video.) MBI6665 supports voltage from 6V to 65V and 1.5A current. Built-in jitter feature reduces EMI. Full error detection and customer favorite features including soft start-up and thermal foldback help prevent LED module damage due to environmental conditions.
Since MBI6659Q and MBI6665Q have received AEC-Q100 certification championed by the North American auto industry, they can be seamless incorporated into Tier 1 auto supply chains, readying for the coming EV explosion.
Macroblock’s extensive lineup meets comprehensive automotive demand
In addition to LED headlight, LED automotive display is a major driver of automotive LED growth. Direct-view micro/mini-LED display and LED-based local-dimming backlight can be seen in dashboard, center consoles and head-up displays (HUDs). Future directions of automotive display include 1.5 meter-wide full-width display, morphing display and transparent display and high resolution (250 ppi) display, according to panel manufacturers. As for HDR, local dimming and wide color gamut, Macroblock offers corresponding solutions such as MBI5353Q and MBI6353Q for high brightness and high contrast ratio that automotive HDR requires.
Though the world car market dipped momentarily in the first half of 2020 due to the pandemic, recovery has begun in the second half of the year. As infrastructures continue to develop, consumers will be more receptive to EVs. Active development and marketing by international carmakers will also help the EV market grow the new heights. These vehicles will be equipped with smart automotive lighting and display applications, boosting automotive LED supplier sales.