Electronic Design

OLEDs Have A Bright Future In The Automotive Industry

Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), already at our door-step, should get a big boost from the huge automotive market. "We would love to see the promise of OLEDs pay off," says Robert W. Schumacher, general director of the Mobile Multimedia/Business Line at Delphi Automotive Systems, Kokomo, Ind.

Schumacher is impressed with a number of OLED technology's qualities. These direct-view displays are very bright, and they can function over wide temperature latitudes. OLEDs also are emissive instead of transmissive, so they require no external light source.

The lifespans of full-color OLEDs aren't long enough for many industries, though, particularly the auto industry. OLED manufacturers need to fix this. Still, monochromatic OLEDs are beginning to appear in cell phones in Japan.

The company hopes OLEDs will bring down display costs. Meanwhile, Schumacher doesn't believe OLEDs based on active thin-film transistors (TFTs) are down and out yet. "Every year they get better, their temperature range widens, the resolution goes up, and the price comes down," he says.

Components of all kinds have to meet some stiff demands before automotive manufacturers decide to use them. "The electronics we put in cars have far better reliability, durability, and life than electronics sold in the consumer electronics field," he notes.

Automotive components must sustain performance between −40°C and 90°C in the cockpit and 125°C and 150°C under the hood. They must endure repeated temperature cycling and be able to perform for ten years, too.

Just like the high-compression engine that enabled larger cars and microprocessor-based control systems that yielded closed-loop engine controls and anti-skid brakes, Schumacher believes multimedia is a paradigm-changing factor in the automotive world. Since its inception in June of 1998, the Delphi Automotive multimedia group has booked $2.9 billion in new business. "Multimedia is growing very fast. We see this market growing at a 30% to 40% compound annual growth rate," he says.

In fact, 64 years ago, Delphi Automotive Systems was the first company to put a factory-installed radio in a car. That's when Charles Kettering, then head of GM, purchased Crosley Radio in Kokomo and the company changed its name to Delco. It changed again about a year ago to become known as Delphi Automotive Systems.

"And that's why we are here," Schumacher adds.

Formerly part of General Motors, Delphi Automotive Systems is now a tier-one supplier to the automotive industry at large. It's no longer confined to selling to companies under the GM umbrella.

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