Advanced Front Lighting Systems (AFLS) are going digital. Are light source suppliers ready? – An interview with OSRAM Opto Semiconductors

LED technology is rapidly gaining popularity as its cost and package sizes decrease and efficiency and luminance improve. Full LED headlamps are now being implemented in the small car B category. Advanced LED matrix headlights, with more than 50 LEDs per vehicle, have been implemented in premium car segments. Today, digital lighting is a key area of investigation for the automotive lighting supply chain. It enables smarter lighting functionalities, safer adaptive-driving beam (ADB) designs with cameras, and allows artificial intelligence (AI) to be put in the front lighting loop. Advanced front lighting system (AFLS) architectures integrate other inevitable building blocks. These include cameras and sensors, electronic control units (ECUs), and software for effective image processing. High resolution, combined with flexible software and wide-ranging sensor integration, creates options that were once inconceivable.

The automotive lighting market totaled US$29 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach US$38.8 billion in 2024. This expansion represents a 4.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for 2018 – 2024, reckons Yole Développement (Yole) in its latest Solid-State Lighting report, Automotive Advanced Front-Lighting Systems. The growth is driven by natural LED cost erosion, coupled with significant improvements of LED modules, resulting in more vehicles equipped with this technology.

OSRAM Opto Semiconductors (OSRAM OS) is a driver of innovation in development and manufacturing of optoelectronic semiconductors. OSRAM OS offers a broad portfolio of automotive state-of-the-art LEDs, laser diodes and infrared components. With their products and solutions, they can serve all kinds of customer requirements worldwide.

Courtesy of OSRAM OS

Martin Vallo, PhD. and Pierrick Boulay, both Technology & Market Analysts at Yole had the opportunity to debate with Wolfgang Lex, Vice President and General Manager Automotive at OSRAM OS. During an exclusive interview, they shared their vision of the AFLS market, technical issues and market challenges. This discussion is also an opportunity for OSRAM OS to reveal its market positioning and detail its latest innovations. invites you to discover this interview today.

Martin Vallo (MV) The disruptive trends in the automotive industry have a big impact on the automotive lighting industry. Digitalization of cars is a megatrend in the automotive industry, leading to electric and autonomous vehicles. Can you please give more insight on how OSRAM is involved in automotive exterior lighting today?

Wolfgang Lex (WL): Osram is one of the leading suppliers for automotive lighting solutions. Besides the conventional technologies like halogen we’re working on different LED-based solutions for all automotive front and rear lighting applications. We’re covering a wide range of different conventional technologies as well as intelligently addressable components like Eviyos, the world’s first hybrid LED consisting of 1,024 individually controllable pixels with an integrated IC. It enables very precise usage of front lighting and additionally improves safety on the streets.

Courtesy of OSRAM OS

MV: In the modern headlight we can see many different types of SSL technologies. They include LEDs for daytime running lights, LEDs for low and high beam, matrices of individual LEDs or arrays, microLED arrays, high brightness LEDs for digital micromirror devices and single MEMS mirrors and laser diodes. Could you please briefly characterize your portfolio and comment on its importance for the future? What will be the winning technology?

WL: Currently we’re covering all of the major exterior lighting applications. It will depend on the respective customers which technologies will be successful and which will not. We see a trend that the number of light-based applications in the automotive sector has increased throughout recent years. Interior lighting always gets more important. Car-to-X communication will also play a vital role in a few years. But conventional front lighting will develop during next years too. We’re convinced that year-over-year there will be more cars equipped with modern lighting solutions, so the number of LED-based applications per car will increase.

Pierrick Boulay (PB): You have one particularly attractive technology in your portfolio for AFLS: EVIYOS, a mini LED array chip including 1024 pixels. Since 2017 you have presented this technology at several events, but we haven’t seen it yet in any production car. Could you please clarify what your plans are with this kind of high-res chip in the future? What car segments do you target? What new applications will be enabled? How will it facilitate the construction of headlights? How many chips will be used per headlight? When will we see it in production cars? Which car makers are interested in this technology?

WL: We’ll develop the first generation of Eviyos to series production readiness in early 2020. But we’re already working on the second generation, which will feature more than 25,000 individually controllable pixels. Market entry for this multi-pixel technology is planned for 2023. Besides the already-mentioned very precise adaptive front lighting application, which avoids dazzling other drivers, it will be possible to project symbols or short messages in HD-quality on the street with the second generation of Eviyos. Regarding the final usage it’s again depending on the respective customers. There are various possibilities to use Eviyos. You can combine several Eviyos with each other as well as combining one of them with conventional LEDs in the headlights. In both cases you’ll lift automotive lighting to a new level. Additionally, modern lighting technologies have a huge impact on security. The better the driver can see and perceive his surroundings the safer he can drive. Besides this, intelligent lighting solutions can also provide guidance through a narrow road of a construction site, for example.

Courtesy of OSRAM OS

PB: Laser lights offer several advantages over both incumbent technologies and LED. However, cost, safety and limited use case aspectsare strong barriers to integration. Could you please outline how lasers will evolve in automotive lighting in the future?

WL: We have demonstrated valuable features with our visible laser components in recent years. At the same time LED-based solutions are getting better and better. So, again, it’s the customer’s choice what technology they will rely on in future. Thanks to our broad portfolio and long-time experience in developing and manufacturing high quality products the customers will find the right solutions for their applications.

Besides this we see a bright future for our infrared lasers, especially regarding the dissemination of autonomous driving. We’re market leader for those components and already have 10 million laser chips in the field – without a single chip defect. We’re in close contact with the major players in this field and we’re seen as a trusted partner for their current and future developments.

PB: One of the trends is the integration of LEDs into arrays to provide custom light scenarios. To make the lighting dynamic and adaptive, we need additional technologies such as cameras, sensors, micro-controllers, LED drivers, application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and software. Please clarify how OSRAM, as a Tier-2 component supplier, is involved in this integration trend? What are your key roles? What is the most critical and expensive part or solution for integration?

WL: Osram shapes this trend with various developments for interior as well as for exterior lighting. In our view it will be about developing optoelectronic components, which feature more functionalities than just light emission or light detection. We’re summarizing these activities under the term “component +”. One good example is the already-mentioned Eviyos technology. Another product that demonstrates our activities in this field is called Osire E4633i, an RGB-LED with integrated IC. It’s possible to combine more than 4,000 LEDs in a row and realize personalized light scenarios to increase the emotional link to the car as well as some functional aspects. In semi-autonomous cars, for example, it could be necessary to get the drivers’ attention back to the current traffic situation to avoid an accident or a collision with another car. Thanks to the Osire E4633i you can guide his or her attention with a dynamic light sequence back to the traffic.

Already today we can address a wide area of automotive interior applications with our broad portfolio. During the coming years the connection of those interior lighting applications will also get more important.

MV: In the automotive industry, Yole has identified two trends. The first is implementing the latest high-end technologies. The second is “LEDification” of the automotive market. Which trend will drive the market in the near future? How do you see the future of automotive advanced front lighting systems?

WL: There will be probably more than just one big trend which will shape the automotive industry in the upcoming years. The number of LED-based exterior lighting solutions will increase, especially regarding smaller or middle-class vehicles. Next to this the dissemination of autonomous and semi-autonomous driving has a huge impact on the development of security systems like light detection and ranging (LiDAR), or other advanced driver assistant systems (ADAS) in general. At the same time, the usage of cars will significantly change the less they need the driver. The interior will become way more important than today. Regarding this we see a trend that applications that we currently know classically from the mobile device market, like gesture recognition, face recognition or vital sign monitoring, are moving into cars. Besides this, Car-To-X communication will become increasingly important especially within autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. To sum up, mobility will change fundamentally in coming years, and high end-lighting solutions will play an essential role in this process.

MV: In the second half of 2018, OSRAM and Continental launched a joint venture. We see a lot of new activities that are characteristic for Tier-1s part suppliers. Does OSRAM intend to become a Tier-1 supplier?  If so, why, and in which field do you see new opportunities?

WL: Osram is market leader in automotive lighting. With our products and solutions, we can serve all kinds of customer requirements. For example, we develop, produce and sell lamps, light modules and sensor components for automotive applications in both OEM and aftermarket segments. This includes conventional and LED-based solutions. On the other side we offer and develop high-tech products and solutions, such as in the fields of sensing and visualization for the automotive sector. In close dialogue with our customers, we develop technological innovations in order to be prepared for future requirements. The result is a constantly growing range of automotive lighting products that is in demand worldwide and makes Osram a global technology and market leader in the field of automotive lighting technology.

MV: What role and position in the supply chain are you anticipating for Osram OS?

WL: Our goal is to keep our number one position in automotive lighting. Based on our close customer relationships and manufacturing experience we will develop outstanding products in close collaboration with our partners to shape and push the evolution of automotive lighting with all its facets. Depending on the final application we will rely on our known expertise or – regarding our “component + strategy” – build up new knowhow in processes afar from chip manufacturing.


Wolfgang Lex is Vice President and General Manager Automotive at OSRAM Opto Semiconductors. He studied at Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule in Regensburg and right after graduating he joined Siemens Semiconductor. Through different leading positions he experienced the spin-off the OSRAM and he gained strong understanding of automotive TIR2 business for over 20 years. Over the long period of leadership he developed a very successful skill set in modern leadership culture. As a result, he’s been mentoring and sharing best practice with many young talents. Very good understanding of global cultures (JAPAN, China, US).


Martin Vallo, PhD is serves as a Technology & Market Analyst specialized in solid-state lighting technologies, within the Photonics, Sensing & Display division at Yole Développement (Yole). With 9 years’ experience within semiconductor technology, Martin is involved today in the development of technology & market reports as well as the production of custom consulting projects at Yole.
Prior his mission at Yole, he worked at CEA (Grenoble, France), with a mission focused on the epitaxial growth of InGaN/GaN core-shell nanowire LEDs by MOCVD and their characterization for highly flexible photonic devices. Martin graduated from Academy of Sciences, Institute of Electrical Engineering (Slovakia) with an engineering degree in III-nitride semiconductors.

As part of the Photonics, Sensing & Display division at Yole Développement (Yole), Pierrick Boulay works as Market and Technology Analyst in the fields of LED, OLED and Lighting Systems to carry out technical, economic and marketing analysis. He has experience in both LED lighting (general lighting, automotive lighting…) and OLED lighting. In the past, he has mostly worked in R&D department for LED lighting applications. Pierrick holds a master degree in Electronics (ESEO – France).

Related report

Automotive Advanced Front Lighting Systems 2019_cover_bd

Automotive Advanced Front-Lighting Systems
Headlamp digitalization is driving automotive lighting’s growth and technological evolution.


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