SAN FRANCISCO — Demand for automotive display systems if projected to continue rising rapidly this year as automakers cram more technology into their vehicles in a quest to create differentiation, according to research firm IHS Markit.

The latest IHS Markit forecast predicts that shipments of automotive display panels will increase by 11 percent this year, reaching 164 million units. Shipments of automotive display panels increased by 9 percent last year.

A separate IHS forecast projects that shipments of the three primary automotive display systems — instrument cluster, center stack and head-up display systems — will grow 9 percent in volume this year, reaching 118.5 million units. This forecast also predicts that the total market for these three types of systems will increase by 17 percent this year to reach $13.5 billion.

Brian Rhodes
Brian Rhodes

"In the quest for differentiation, automakers are using displays to transform vehicle interiors into a futuristic digital user experience with more pixels in front of consumers than ever before," said Brian Rhodes, automotive user experience analyst at IHS Markit, in a press statement.

Rhodes said that high-resolution, large displays that had a few years ago had been used only in luxury vehicles are being used in mass market car brands as prices decline and consumer demand increases.

According to IHS, a major enabler for the growth of automotive display systems is coming from the supply chain. Large global display panel manufacturers in Asia have recently invested heavily in automotive display panel production in order to continue sales growth as display markets in other areas have slowed, such as smartphones and tablet PCs, according to the firm.

“As vehicles adopt more technology, more new display use-cases become viable and new display applications are born,” said Hiroshi Hayase, senior director of small and medium displays at IHS Markit. “In addition to the strong growth in the primary display market, we also expect strong growth in display mirrors, rear seat entertainment and even in aftermarket systems as buyers clamor for more digital interfaces.”

Global display shipments for rearview mirror applications are forecast to increase by a whopping 52 percent in 2018 to reach 1.6 million units, according to IHS. While automakers are keenly aware of the growing demand in this sector, the aftermarket mirror manufacturers are responding quicker to the trend and represent a majority of today’s global production, IHS said.

— Dylan McGrath is the editor-in-chief of EE Times.