LG targets auto sector with OLED panels for taillights
Mass production kicks off with first product for Mercedes S-Class
KIM JAEWON, Nikkei staff writer
SEOUL -- LG Display said Thursday that it had started mass production of OLED light panels, targeting premium automakers that want to use the latest display technology for rear lights in their vehicles, and capitalizing on their flexibility to provide a wealth of new design opportunities.
"Our key market is the automotive sector, which is very interested in adopting OLED light panels in its back lights," said Park Sung-soo, a vice president at the company, in a press briefing. "Our first product is installed in Mercedes-Benz's S-Class Coupe."
The announcement comes as LG Display is expanding its OLED panel technology into the mobile phone sector, beyond the TV display market where it dominates. The company has almost 100% market share of the OLED TV panels sector, and plans to reach into the mobile OLED panel market, following its local rival Samsung Display.
LG said that it had invested 150 billion won ($136.5 million) in setting up its Generation 5 production line in South Korea's southeastern industrial city of Gumi, producing 15,000 sheets of 1,100mm to 1,250mm size per month. This is about 30 times the capacity of the previous Generation 2 line, which produced 4,000 sheets of 370mm to 470mm per month.
Park said that the company was also in talks with two other German automakers, but declined to name them. He was confident that the company would enjoy more demand from automakers as self-driving technology is developing quickly. "There will be huge markets for interior lights for autos as people will enjoy more activities when autonomous driving is possible."
The company aims to post 200 billion won of revenues from the panels by 2019, according to Park. He added that they planned to increase production capacity by 90,000 sheets later, if they can draw more orders from manufacturers.
New OLED lighting products are being sold by under a new brand, Luflex, a blend of the words "lux" and "flexibility," according to the company.
The company said that OLED light panels offered high commercial potential because they were kinder on the eyes than fluorescent and LED lighting, and emitted light that was similar to sunlight, as well as offering great uniformity in their luminescence.
"That is why our OLED light panels are selling well among parents who care about the eyes of their children," said Bruce Yoon, head of the company's OLED light sales team. "They are willing to pay more for the products as they understand it is better for their children."