The Search for the Holy Grail of Automotive Displays


For years, as the trend in automotive toward digital displays has increased and the use of analog displays continues to decline, two types of digital displays have emerged as front runners in the race to deliver the premium customer driving experience. 

The first option, which has become fairly standardized in the automotive industry is liquid-crystal display (LCD). LCDs are widely available from a number of suppliers who can deliver proven automotive grade, good color displays with no burn-in effect and a life span that typically lasts the life of the vehicle. 

But as automotive designers continue experimenting with new interior designs that include curved displays or displays that appear to be floating, the need to make displays significantly thinner and more flexible became more and more important. At the same time, automakers are demanding higher definition and increased pixel count, allowing them to develop richer, smoother graphics as part of a premium user experience. 

This second option gathering attention is known as organic light emitting displays or OLED, which is widely used in the consumer electronics market and is notable for its flexibility and the rich, vibrant colors it delivers. 

When applied to the automotive industry however, OLED still presents a number of challenges. The rich, vibrant colors may cause a burn-in effect in which image retention is visible even when playing other content. Similarly, the brightness and great contrast that OLED delivers results in a shorter lifespan, which may result in the display(s) needing to be replaced every two years or so. This is not feasible, particularly with the average age of a car on the road is more than 11 years. And lastly, the cost is still significantly above the current cost of LCD. 

In the race to discover the holy grail of display technology, Delphi continues to evaluate all options including the readiness of OLED technology for the automotive market so that we are able to offer the best solutions for our customers.