Automotive LEDs on the Rise: EVERLIGHT Excellent R&D Capabilities Ensure Industry Leading Position

Faced with ever-growing competitions, global LED manufacturers looking for growth opportunities have turned their focus to niche markets. Automotive LEDs, for instance, are one of the few sizable application markets that are developing rapidly, while prices of related products have remained relatively stable. EVERLIGHT Electronics Co., Ltd., a leading player in the global LED and optoelectronics industry, has also put a special focus to this segment in recent years.
 
Aside from building the Miaoli Tongluo New Factory – an automotive LED-exclusive factory – the company also provides a comprehensive portfolio of automotive products for interior and exterior applications, as well as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), which were all showcased at the 2017 Taipei AMPA held in April. At the event, Allen Chen, Project Manager of Automotive Product Business Unit, Automotive Product Marketing Department., EVERLIGHT, shared with LEDinside the latest trends in this market and the company’s continuous R&D efforts to provide advanced products and solutions. 
 
 
The future is ambient lighting: EVERLIGHT offers well-developed interior LED applications
 
EVERLIGHT ventured into the automotive LED market 13 years ago. Given its early entry into this market, the company can now provide well-rounded products to meet customers’ needs, Chen said. Initially, EVERLIGHT focused on interior applications, and lighting products for dashboard, stereo system, HVAC system and central locking are very well-developed. Over the past two years, amidst a growing need for enhanced in-vehicle lighting and infotainment experiences, large-screen dashboard and stereo system have gradually become mainstream. Regarding its future strategies for the interior lighting business, Chen said EVERLIGHT will focus on LED backlighting for audio/video systems, ambient lighting and UV sterilization.
 
 
In terms of LED backlighting for audio/video systems, EVERLIGHT now offers automotive LEDs that can achieve a 90% NTSC color gamut, enabling more saturated and vivid display colors. Regarding the highly competitive ambient lighting segment, Chen said all EVERLIGHT’s products – ranging from single LEDs, two-chip LEDs, three-chip LEDs to four-chip LEDs – come in a wide-range of colors and have sulfur resistance. As multi-color illumination gradually dominates car interior lighting, currently EVERLIGHT’s three-chip and four-chip solutions are the most popular products. 
 
Chen added that international automakers are very picky when it comes to ambient lighting. Although using a three-chip RGB LED module can produce white light and other colors, but this kind of white light is not pure enough to satisfy their demands. On the other hand, the 0.5W four-chip RGBW LED, which EVERLIGHT exhibited for the first time at the 2017 AMPA, can generate pure white light and promise a professional level of color accuracy, offering automakers optimized flexibility in lighting design to add value to the cars.
 
In addition, in line with smart car development, interior LED lighting systems will also become more human-centric. For instance, a built-in IR sensor will detect body temperature to detect people’s emotions, and adjust lighting accordingly. If a person has high body temperature, it may suggest that he or she is agitated. Thus, the system will automatically generate cool tone color to create a more relaxed atmosphere. On the contrary, if the body temperature detected is a bit low, the system will adjust lighting to a warmer tone, with color temperature at around 3000K to mimic sunlight to help the person feel encouraged and happier. 
 
Furthermore, sterilizing UV LED modules are also one of the competitive automotive interior lighting products that EVERLIGHT is offering, which include a sterilization system integrating TiO2 film with UVA-LED. The company is also working on developing UVC-LED solutions that have stronger sterilizing power. UV LED modules have become one of the major applications of automotive LEDs, which can effectively remove mold within cars. 
 
Exterior highlight: ADB matrix intelligent LED headlight
 
In terms of exterior automotive applications, EVERLIGHT offers 0.1W to 20W LED modules used in brake lights, position lights, turn lights, daytime running lights (DRLs), and headlights. Chen pointed out that brake lights, turn lights and DRLs have higher LED penetration, which thus account for most of the sales of EVERLIGHT’s exterior automotive applications. The quality of EVERLIGHT’s products, Chen added, has been recognized by global automakers and automotive lamp manufacturers.
 
As for turn lights, EVERLIGHT introduced a PC Amber version (phosphor converted blue LED). With brightness decay of less than 13% at 85°C, PC Amber LEDs has superior thermal and color stability performance over that of traditional 4 Chip Amber LEDs. The PC Amber products give EVERLIGHT a powerful competitive advantage in the turn light market, and have become a top choice for automakers and automotive lamp manufacturers.
 
 
To achieve energy efficiency and ensure pedestrian safety during daytime, DRLs are now mandatory in most countries. To meet various demands from automakers and automotive lighting manufactures, EVERLIGHT provides products with different beam design, such as matrix light or area light. In 2017, the company also unveiled the latest 2-in-1 solution using COB to package white and yellow LED chips together, which can be used in DRLs and turn lights. 
 
Drawing on its leading technology position, Chen said the highlight of EVERLIGHT’s exterior application lineup was LED headlights, which require advanced technologies to develop and be optimized. In addition, headlights are critical for safe driving, so automakers often demand long-life products with advanced specs. EVERLIGHT offers 1 to 5-chip LED modules with low thermal resistance, which can achieve less than 10% of brightness decay at 85℃, making them the ideal options for adaptive front-lighting system (AFS) headlights. 
 
Considering headlight glare is one of the primary causes for accidents, EVERLIGHT has been working on better and safer designs. At the 2017 Taipei AMPA, the company showcased its latest ADB matrix intelligent LED headlight. Using CCD camera to detect oncoming vehicles, the system automatically blanks out light that shines directly toward oncoming vehicles to avoid headlight glare. The product was awarded the "Innovation Awards" at the exhibition.
 
 
The ADB matrix intelligent LED headlight consists of 24 pieces of LED, and every single piece emits a luminance of 190lm at an operating current of 700mA. Through intelligent control, the brightness is individually and independently dimmable to attain 1024 grayscale variations. The product, designed and developed with leading OE (Original Equipment) automakers, is currently used for high beam lights. 
 
Car with a soul: EVERLIGHT presents powerful ADAS applications in six areas
 
Thanks to the advancement in semiconductor chips and other key technologies, smart cars with soul – realized by ADAS system and Internet of vehicles – are leading the way to reshape the automotive landscape. Vehicles can now make decisions and even “talk” to each other. EVERLIGHT’s biggest advantage in developing ADAS system is its mature IR sensing technology, which has already been mass produced, and sales from related products accounted for around 20% of EVERLIGHT’s revenue in 2016. 
 
 
At the 2017 Taipei AMPA, EVERLIGHT exhibited AEC-Q101 qualified ADAS applications in six areas. Interior-wise, there are active warning system that detects driver fatigue and distraction; optical touch solution that controls infotainment system, replacing a traditional display; and day/night optical sensing system that switches on LED headlights and daytime running lights automatically at night, and it can also adjusts dashboard lighting.
 
Exterior applications include intelligent sensing system that controls door lock and opens/closes the trunk; collision avoidance system and night view system. Among them, night view system is already quite advanced, and IR sensing technology currently enables a sensing range of 120 meters. To further improve road safety, EVERLIGHT is now working on developing LD-based sensors that have increased sensing range.
 
Future of EVERLIGHT production: A dedicated smart factory for automotive LEDs
 
Aside from a comprehensive portfolio of automotive products, EVERLIGHT, starting from 2016, built a dedicated factory in Miaoli, Taiwan, for automotive LEDs. The maximum production capacity per month is expected to hit 800KK, allowing the company to better cater to the booming market. The new factory is TS 16949 certified, helping position EVERLIGHT as a reliable partner to the global automotive industry.
 
In addition, the biggest advantage of the new factory is having a specific production line to mass-produce a particular product, ensuring standardization and quality control. Moreover, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) was introduced to control and manage the quality of every piece of LED. All products will be engraved with this laser code before die bonding, for the convenience of tracking the in-process and post-process status of the product. This is an intelligent factory that features the conception of human factor engineering, which can help achieve both premium quality and high production capacity.
 
Automotive LEDs has experienced a huge boom in 2017. LEDinside forecasts this segment will become a major growth engine in the industry, with market value reaching US$2.817 billion in 2017 (+14.8% YoY). With over a decade of continuous efforts in developing automotive LEDs, EVERLIGHT has successfully expanded product offerings in both the interior and exterior businesses, and provides products that meet customers’ demands. Meanwhile, in line with global trends, the company has been dedicating to road safety by providing optimized solutions. EVERLIGHT’s experience is a good example of how LED manufactures can successfully add value to their products and transform their businesses. 
 
(EVERLIGHT/ LEDinside)
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