How software is changing the automotive industry

Manufacturing & Distribution

A software-programmed car comes with many enhancements such as connectivity, advanced driver safety systems and a consumer-centric ethos. No wonder these care promise to bring about dramatic change within the automotive industry.

With many other aspects of our lives quickly implementing tech, it’s no surprise that eventually cars would too. Most notably, we have seen this come into play with Tesla.

Automakers must now be prepared to integrate into a bigger ecosystem, with technology giants synonymous with computer manufacturing, internet search engines, and mobility as a service (MAAS) leading the charge in investment and innovation.

Tesla pioneered the concept of the tech-enabled car.

A recent article I found talks about how these new cars will change supply chains and cause disruption within the automotive industry:

Vehicle Architecture

  •  A typical vehicle built in 2000 had approximately 10 processors and featured a few thousand lines of code. Fast forward 20 years, and today’s cars have about 45 processors with hundreds of millions of lines of code.  
  • The software-defined car will feature two parallel architectural changes, namely zones and domains.
  • Three or four zones are likely, with control units merged and centralized into high-powered computers. Wiring becomes simpler in a zonal approach, and the software environment more scalable and flexible with domains connected by automotive ethernet, accessed via domain controllers. The software is easily upgradeable by centralized over the air (OTA) updates and efficiently supports the user-defined vehicle.  
  •  Using machine learning and AI in such systems yields more human-like responses than the conventional software code’s “if-then-else” nature.  
  • The product lifespan will be lengthened, too, as a vehicle’s feature set is extended and optimized through over the air updates post-point of sale (POS). They could create new revenue streams and business models from the sale of applications and driver data captured via analytics.

Supply Chains

  • The shift toward software-defined vehicles will require a fresh approach to vehicle development and adjustment to the relationship between manufacturers and Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers.
  • At the same time, a few automakers are investing in proprietary vehicle operating systems and are considering licensing them to other manufacturers. To do this requires significant investment on their part and a high degree of corporate agility, an approach that may not suit all automakers. 

 Big Tech

  • Tech giants are also investing and innovating in various spheres of the automotive arena. Some provide familiar operating systems for connected in-vehicle infotainment systems, which aim to give the driver the same interface and application ecosystem as they are used to on their smartphones.
  • Others are focusing on developing autonomous cars. An autonomous self-driving vehicle working 24/7 as a taxi would be of huge benefit to a company whose primary focus is mobility as a service, as would mass deployment of a particular infotainment operating system.  
  • In a software-defined vehicle, applications and operating systems can be upgraded and enhanced throughout the vehicle’s life via OTA updates, like those of a smartphone. It allows a certain amount of customization and optimization for the user and keeps the vehicle’s safety features updated.   

I hope this article gave some new insights in how these software-defined cars will change up the industry. We are now entering an era where automakers and Tier 1 and 2 suppliers will work alongside tech giants to create new innovation. Through software and through analytics, drivers will benefit with better functionality, experiences and safety.

The software-defined vehicle heralds a new age in cooperation and innovation

By Anusheh Khan on 23/02/2022