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China panel makers put increased focus on automotive, OLED displays

China-based panel makers, including China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT), BOE Technology and Visionox Technology, have stepped up their deployments in the automotive and OLED display segments to mitigate the impact of shrinking LCD panel sales, according to industry sources.

Due to sluggish panel demand from the consumer electronics sector, many Chinese panel vendors either incurred heavy losses or saw their sales and profits decline sharply in the first half of 2022, said the sources.

For example, CSOT posted a net loss of CNY2.27 billion (US$317.8 million) in the first half, according to the company's financial report. During the same period, Visionox incurred losses of CNY1.4 billion and CaiHong Optoelectronics Technology reported a net loss of CNY1.14 billion.

Meanwhile, BOE Technology's sales declined 15.66% on year to CNY91.61 billion and net profits dropped 48.94% to CNY6.596 billion. Tianma Microelectronics and Infovision Optoelectronics have also reported decreased sales for the first half.

CSOT attributed the losses to geopolitical conflicts and decreased panel prices in addition to waning panel demand from the end market.

CSOT said it will continue focusing on the high-end segment for large-size applications but will accelerate its deployments in the automotive display segment for small- to medium-size applications.

According to industry sources, the production lines of CSOT's t9 fab will be dedicated to producing IT, automotive and other specialized panels. Meanwhile, the company's t5 fab will begin mass-producing panels for automotive, AR and VR applications in the first half of 2023.

On the other hand, BOE has enhanced its deployment in the AMOLED panel segment. It has unveiled over 40-inch OLED panels and curved automotive OLED panels.

Tianma has also strengthened its deployment in the a-Si, LTPS and AMOLED panel sectors and is building a trial production line for microLED products.

Despite heavy losses incurred in the first half, Visionox has continued to ramp up its output for OLED panels. The company's OLED panel sales totaled CNY3.23 billion in the first half of 2022, increasing 20.13% from a year earlier.

Infovision targets the fast-growing automotive cockpit display market. The company's automotive displays reportedly have ventured into the supply chains of Geely Automobile, BYD, Chery Automobile, SAIC-GM, Toyota Motor, and Honda Motor.