Automotive E/E architecture continues to evolve in the direction of software-oriented design to expand the scope of in-vehicle communication. The shift from conventional mechanical design to future-ready digital automotive experiences is a result of the growing need for sophisticated electronic features in vehicles. However, this innovation translates into increased cost and complexity of the vehicle E/E architecture.
As vehicles become more complex due to consumer demands such as advanced infotainment and passive security features, E/E architecture will play an important role in enabling major aspects of vehicle functionality – be it the cost, weight, or sustainability of the platform.
Such high computing needs of future vehicles mean that automakers will start differentiating connected and autonomous cars based on the vehicle E/E architecture. This also suggests that non-automotive digital companies will begin to explore new opportunities as the ecosystem evolves.
Meanwhile, innovating and integrating complex electronic systems to support the advancement of vehicle technologies has created new challenges for the automotive industry. Here’s why redesigning vehicle E/E architecture is important to meet new consumer demands.
1. Rapid increase in electrification and connectivity in vehicles
The cost of electronic components will reach 85% of the overall vehicle cost in 2035 as per NXP Semiconductors. This has resulted from a decade-long steady focus of the automotive industry on the convergence of connectivity and electrification.
OEMs continue to integrate electronics and software-based features to improve connectivity, vehicle safety, and fuel efficiency. The rise in electronic content per vehicle is gradually shifting from primary components like airbags, ABS, and infotainment, to sophisticated aspects of autonomous vehicles such as telematics, V2X, and ADAS.
According to SIA, the semiconductor content per vehicle will grow from $358 in 2015 to $600 in 2025. Thus, established automakers and OEMs will need to create innovative E/E architectures that are scalable and flexible across vehicle platforms.
2. The role of automation in rethinking vehicle design
The primarily mechanical E/E architecture is shifting to automotive software-defined design due to the advent of connected and automated vehicles. By 2030, 90 million autonomous vehicles, 700 million connected cars, and 250 million electric/hybrid vehicles will hit the road.
At this pace, the automotive software market will outgrow the automotive industry. Software-native companies are exploring new opportunities in remote diagnostics and over-the-air updates. Meanwhile, various automakers are progressing towards the future of mobility with software-defined features as part of the vehicle E/E architecture.
For instance, modern cars consist of 100 engine control units on average. With software applications, a single ECU can improve vehicle functions like processing, control, and safety. Such a centralized approach to the E/E architecture will provide technical as well as cost benefits to automakers.
3. Vehicles as future data generators
The next-generation vehicle will be a rich data source generating around 15-20 TB data by 2035. Data has become ubiquitous in the automotive ecosystem. It encompasses in-vehicle systems, sensors mounted on the cars, location intelligence, LiDAR, and other data generation enablers.
V2X and autonomous vehicles will bring a visible shift in data transmission protocols. They will also enable new scopes for data transfer – from 1-2 MB in 2020 to almost 40-50 TB in 2035. Automakers will need to revisit the current vehicle E/E architecture to accommodate the increasing data throughput in vehicles.
4. Quick product updates leading to a shortened life cycle of automotive electronics
Due to the rapid implementation of changes in the form of electrification and connectivity, the electronic product lifespan has reduced to 4-5 years. Quick updates will continue to shorten the product lifecycle over the next few years.
The evolution of airbag electronic components and onboard diagnostics in small vehicles has already declined today. In mainstream vehicles, automotive electronics such as ABS, AMT, and cameras have reached a maturity stage.
Connected Infotainment and ADAS in the luxury vehicle segment are currently growing. However, they will mature in the next five years. Thus, the future E/E architecture should be able to accommodate the quick renewal of products. It should also actively deliver a quality in-vehicle digital user experience.
The way forward
Earlier this year, Siemens expanded its Capital software portfolio to work on a comprehensive EE architecture development solution. It integrates mechanical design and product lifecycle management solutions. Many automakers and software-native companies, including Audi and NVidia, have been developing piloted driving systems. These systems will play a crucial role in centralized E/E architecture.
Going forward, the current patchwork approach to vehicle architecture will need replacement to tackle cost and complexity. Netscribes’ Vehicle Electronic/Electrical (E/E) Architecture report uncovers the rising need to redefine the existing vehicle architecture. It provides a market overview to help you navigate the disruptive future of the automotive industry. The report also discusses IT best practices and module consolidation strategy that will help build future-proof vehicle E/E architecture.
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