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18 January 2008


Top 3 automotive LED makers have over 50% of market

Germany’s Osram Opto Semiconductors was the largest supplier of LEDs for automotive applications in 2007 (with about 23% market share), followed by the USA’s Philips Lumileds and Japan’s Nichia (each with about 16%), estimates a report ‘The Worldwide Market for LEDs in Automotive Applications’ by IMS Research.

But, despite this, Lumileds and Nichia do not compete with each other to a large extent. “Lumileds sell LEDs mainly for exterior applications while Nichia sell mainly for interior applications,” says analyst Jamie Fox. “There are also geographical differences in the supply chain.” For example, Nichia does not sell many LEDs for automotive applications in Europe, where Osram are strong (in both interior and exterior applications).”

Osram, Nichia and Lumileds pioneered LEDs for use in daytime running lights, and are now also pioneering LEDs for headlamps. This year the soon-to-be released Audi R8 will feature a full LED headlamp, supplied by German lighting manufacturer Automotive Lighting, with LEDs supplied by Osram and Lumileds. This will be the second vehicle to feature LEDs in the headlamp, after the Lexus LS600h, which used Koito headlamps with Nichia LEDs. In addition, in December General Motors announced that a special edition of its Cadillac Escalade Platinum will this year become the first production sports utility vehicle (SUV) with LED headlamps.

The experience of these companies in this sector, and the more challenging requirements for durability and brightness of LEDs (in some applications) in cars compared with mobile phones, MP3 players and TVs, make it difficult for other suppliers to mount a challenge, says IMS. While many other suppliers, such as Toshiba, Avago and Everlight, sell LEDs into this sector, they sell fewer.

However, in the next decade, as the battleground moves from interior and rear lighting applications to the front of the vehicle, this seems set to change. Lumileds, Osram and Nichia all provide LEDs of high brightness and quality that are well suited to forward lighting applications. With a potentially large market for LEDs in headlamps in the next decade, it will be interesting to see which of the big three, or even any of their other competitors, is able to win the biggest share of the market for headlamp applications in 2008 and 2009, says IMS.

The market research firm expects the total automotive LED market to double from $650m in 2006 to $1.3bn within 10 years.

See related items:

White LED revenues to fall 15% by 2011, despite shipments doubling

Automotive LED market to double in 10 years

Automotive demand to drive LED market

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