Confirmed: OLEDWorks is supplying Audi for A8 taillights

April 5, 2022
We said so last November, but no one would verify it until now. The OLED technology provides drivers with design and communication benefits.

Confirming what LEDs Magazine has suspected all along, Rochester, NY-based OLEDWorks said it is indeed the supplier of the OLED taillighting in the latest Audi A8 luxury sedan.

OLEDWorks made the announcement on Monday to coincide with the annual International Symposium on Automotive Lighting (ISAL) in Darmstadt, Germany, where OLEDWorks is exhibiting. The gathering runs through Wednesday.

Inglostadt, Germany–based Audi recently started selling the latest model A8, a few months after introducing it and the higher-end S8 back in November. At the time, the carmaker singled out the innovative OLED taillights as a distinguishing feature, saying the OLED technology supports a choice of geometric patterns — so-called “signatures” — while also serving as warning signs to trailing motorists about proximity and road conditions.

LEDs noted at the time that OLEDWorks was most likely the supplier. But neither OLEDWorks nor Audi would confirm that back then. Audi told LEDs in May 2021 that OLEDWorks “will be a supplier for Audi in the future for digital OLED.”

But until this week, neither company had publicly acknowledged the A8 supply arrangement.

“OLEDWorks…announce they are the supplier of digital OLED lighting in the new Audi A8,” OLEDWorks said in a press release. “Digital OLED rear lighting is a standard feature in this model, offering customers up to four different light signatures in the A8 model range.”

Audi had previously offered OLED taillighting as an A8 option rather than as a standard feature.

Digital OLED as a standard feature in the Audi A8 is a great achievement coming from our strategic focus on this unique technology,” Audi head of lighting innovation Michael Kruppa said. “Audi was the first manufacturer to digitize the rear lights that turns them into a display and opens up new potential in terms of styling, personalization, and safety.”

In the recent announcement, OLEDWorks said Audi drivers can show a choice of four different signatures on the A8. Back in November, Audi said two signatures were possible on the A8 and three on the S8. It is not clear why those numbers changed between November and this week. OLEDWorks would also not confirm yesterday that it is the supplier for the S8.

Audi in the recent past has worked with at least one other OLED supplier for taillights — identifying it only as an Asian supplier, which it used for the OLED option on the Q5 luxury SUV.

At one point, the auto manufacturer worked with former Osram on OLED lighting. OLEDWorks to some extent has taken over where Osram left off. It entered an OLED development partnership with Audi in May 2019.

The OLED developer is optimistic of working its way into other Audi models.

It's incredibly rewarding to see the product on the road and we're looking forward to our continued partnership for future vehicles,” said OLEDWorks CEO David DeJoy.

The company demonstrated the potential for turning taillights into communication displays at last January’s CES in Las Vegas.

If the general public wants to tap the technology, it might have to wait until  OLED taillights work their way into less expensive vehicles. An Audi A8 today lists for around $94,000.

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.