LED Displays Could Potentially Be Integrated into Hyundai’s Front Grilles

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By Car Brand Experts

There are speculations that South Korean automaker Hyundai might be in the works to incorporate an LED display into the grille of an upcoming vehicle. This information emerged from a post on a Texas Instruments forum initially noticed by a Reddit user. The forum post was authored by an individual who mentioned Hyundai as the end client for a specific project, involving a full-color LED matrix display intended for use within the front grille of a vehicle.

The leaked information does not come as a complete surprise as Hyundai has already displayed interest in developing an in-grille smart lighting system and an LED display. While it’s feasible that the carmaker is considering creating a physical proof of concept, it’s also likely that Hyundai is prepared to progress and desires a scalable solution for a future model.

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It should be noted that this display is not a full high-resolution screen like the one you are currently viewing. Instead, it consists of a grid of LEDs arranged in a 71-by-32 configuration. There is a possibility that Hyundai might combine smaller units of these displays to expand the coverage area or enhance the output resolution.

It is also uncertain which vehicle will be equipped with this leading-edge technology. Hyundai has promoted technologies such as its Interactive Smart Face and digital Front End Modules in the past, typically integrating its most recent advancements into its electric vehicles. Therefore, it is conceivable that the upcoming Hyundai EV could be a potential candidate for this innovation. For instance, the Ioniq 7 teaser featured a large array of square pixel LEDs on the front grille; however, its impending launch in 2024 may indicate that it is too advanced in the production process.

A spokesperson from Hyundai declined to provide any insights into future products in an email correspondence with The Drive.

This concept of an in-grille display is not entirely novel. A joint effort between Sony and Honda, referred to as Afeela, showcased a design that replaced the vehicle’s grille with a customizable full-color display, controllable through a designated application. This highlights that other automobile manufacturers are also exploring similar implementations, turning it into a competitive race.

Nevertheless, several potential challenges may hinder the introduction of such a product.

Many states have restrictions against colored lights on the front of vehicles, especially colors that could be mistaken for emergency vehicle signals such as red and blue. It is hard to fathom any carmaker investing in a full-color display only to encounter limitations due to legal constraints. This might lead to the potential scenario where the grille, if introduced, might not be available in the U.S. (at least initially), akin to camera-based side mirrors.

Another issue that could arise is the cost factor. Given that vehicle prices are already on the rise, with the average new vehicle exceeding $50,000, incorporating a sophisticated display at the front could further escalate costs.

Moreover, the expenses wouldn’t stop at the point of purchase. Repair costs would likely increase too, with additional charges added to already hefty repair bills in situations like minor accidents or collisions with road debris. Hyundai’s Mobis group had expressed interest in utilizing smart LEDs to simplify integration, while Hyundai itself aimed to utilize traditional RGB LEDs for improved reliability, albeit at the cost of increased wiring complexity. This cautious approach seems prudent considering Hyundai’s track record with long-term LED performance—there are even online groups dedicated to identifying burnt-out LEDs in Hyundai and Kia tail lights.

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