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Japan Display Bets on Dashboard Flash for Drivers

Fully digital screens are replacing speedometers and dials in vehicles, making industry leader Japan Display Inc.optimistic about boosting sales to global carmakers.

While most new models usually have a central information panel for maps, entertainment and other functions, manufacturers are also increasingly replacing the dashboard facing the driver with a flat screen. Look inside the latest BMW or Mercedes-Benz, chances are Japan Display made the panel.

Replacing instrument clusters with screens is challenging because they need to be more reliable and withstand swings in temperature while providing critical information for the driver. That also makes them more expensive and lets display suppliers demand higher margins, making them an attractive enterprise. Japan Display, the world’s biggest supplier of panels in cars, is betting that the shift to electric vehicles will make screens the key selling point for any car as drivers pay more attention to the interior aesthetics of automobiles than what’s under the hood.

“It used to be all about the engine — how many cylinders, how much horsepower, the sound of it — but with electric vehicles that’s all gone,” Holger Gerkens, who heads JDI’s automotive business, said in an interview. “How do you create attraction? You can do a lot with displays.”

Digital dashboard also offers advantages for drivers, for example changing the style and amount of information for different driving modes, making maps more prominent when needed. For now, they are mostly used in high-end cars made by Audi, Mercedes-Benz and some supercar manufacturers.




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