Audi endorses OLEDs again

Nov. 9, 2021
The technology is now standard on the luxury A8 sedan.

OLEDs have made another incursion into the automotive world, as German carmaker Audi is now offering rear tail lights using the technology as a standard feature, rather than as an option, on its A8 luxury sedan.

The company introduced its new A8 last week, singling out the OLED tail lights as one of the distinguishing features of the latest redesign of a car that first came out in 1994.

As with the Audi Q5 luxury sport utility vehicle, the thin OLED panels emit different geometric lighting patterns, which Audi calls “signatures.” The company is offering a choice of two different signatures on the A8, or three on the higher-end S8.

Both models also come with additional OLED tail lights that illuminate when a vehicle approaching from behind comes within 2m.

Ingolstadt-based Audi introduced OLED tail lights as an option on the A8 in 2017, using product from Osram, but the two companies parted ways as Osram pared back on the technology.

Since then, Audi part of the Volkswagen Group has worked with an Asian supplier which it has declined to identify for LEDs Magazine, and with Rochester, NY-based OLEDWorks. The OLEDs on the new A8 are believed to come from OLEDWorks, although LEDs has been unable to confirm that.

OLEDs organic light emitting diodes — are patches of thin material that light up in response to an electrical current. They can facilitate slicker design options than LEDs, which are single points of light, although the LED community has itself made impressive strides in embedding LEDs in thin constructs.

OLEDs can come at a higher price than LEDs. Thus, their appearance in a luxury automobile might make more sense than in a car aimed at the masses. The Audi A8 lists for $86,500 and the S8 for $130,900.

More on OLEDs

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OLEDs still face a cost challenge in general lighting

Holst and Fraunhofer claim world’s longest OLED

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

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About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.