The introduction of 4G LTE data network is paving the way for a more promising future to realize IoT (Internet of Things), a concept of technology that can be used to bring Internet connectivity to just about any device. Underlining the concept, the car, the “ultimate mobile device”, is transforming from a separate transport vehicle into part of a connected network of peer mobile devices with telematics data sharing and becomes the so called “connected car”. Data including speed, direction and real-time braking, shared with other cars and roadside infrastructure is already available. Also, autonomous driving technology, which needs high level of vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicles to infrastructure (V2I) communication, is shaping the vision of connected car today.
In this context, automotive display is the point of interaction and information for all the data enabled by connectivity, playing a central role in both informing and providing the means of control to a growing list of new systems and applications moving into the car . These new systems come with a growing dependence on embedded auto displays for both input and control. This is helping boost market growth for car displays overall.
According to IHS Automotive Display Market Tracker 2014, which covers TFT LCD panel shipment for in-market automotive display, automotive display market is forecast to grow during the next six years as can be seen below. The automotive display unit shipments are forecast to increase by 23.3% from 67.4 million displays in 2013 to 181.1 million in 2018. IHS sees high YoY growth in unit shipments is anticipated in 2015, which is driven by the growth in center stack displays for both navigation and control, plus the move from analog (mechanical) driver information displays to mixed analog digital and all digital display systems. And, some carmakers are moving the CSD to standard equipment used for infotainment, and heat A/C control. In the US, the entire Honda line will include a CSD (and a back-up camera system) beginning in 2015 with the launch of the Honda Fit.
Dominant LCD panel size for automotive display is 7.x-inch class that is a popular size for in-car navigation and infotainment in the center stack display (CSD), which accounts for the largest share of automotive display market. There is a growing interest in larger CSD panels with an upward trend toward 8.x-, 9.x-, and 10.x-inch class displays. Some carmakers (Audi /VW and Chrysler products) committed to 8.x-inch plus diagonal center stack displays going forward, as a way to help differentiate its brand. To that end, Tesla Motors already uses an unusually large 17-inch CSD.
Manufactures are targeting to replicate the same smartphone and tablet experience when interacting with controls in the car. Meanwhile, the design of HMI (human machine interface) is also trending away from complicated arrays of analog switches, buttons and controls and moving towards a clean design. Touch screens are able to provide customized screens and can be huge space savers particularly in compact cars. North American drivers seem to prefer touch-screens alone, while in Europe, drivers tend to prefer direct control via analog knobs or switches. In Japan, touch-screens were first introduced but now there is a trend to migration this hybrid approach. IHS sees around 35% of total automotive displays utilizing a touch interface in 2013.
Japanese players, JDI and Sharp, are currently dominating the in-market automotive panel supply market, but they are experiencing strong challenge from LG Display and Taiwanese suppliers, which are able to provide competitive prices.
“Connected car” is reshaping the ecosystem of automotive supply chain and bringing in more opportunities for new players. To catch the opportunities or cope with the challenges, suppliers need to reshape their product offering to align with the concept of internet of things.