Automotive Electronics (AE) has aided higher safety, enormous connectivity, better cabin comfort, lower emissions and improved drivability. AE content has been increasing steadily over the years, and it is projected to further increase by double percentage points year-on-year due to electric and hybrid mobility, autonomous and connected transportation, super-connectivity and stricter carbon footprint norms.
Data claims that innovations in semiconductors being used in AE have catapulted their bigger penetration in the auto industry and its support infrastructure. Currently, AE semiconductors have a footprint of $ 340 to $ 380 per vehicle depending on the range of features.
Connectivity and automotive infotainment have changed the AE backdrop due to the consumer mindset of being entertained and connected round the clock. The auto industry's challenge is in the gap of pace of development and implementation of AE in its vehicle launches versus the pace of development of smartphones and communication networks.
The development cycle of a smartphone with its ever expanding features is about 75 % lesser than that of a vehicle. This almost makes the vehicle AE features obsolete by the time a vehicle is launched after its developmental cycle, when compared to that of a smartphone developmental cycle. To bridge this gap, it will be an imperative for the OEMs to offer affordable 'plug and play' upgrade modules to their consumers to help synchronise them with the prevailing connectivity, data networks and compatibility with communication protocols.
SAFETY, AUTONOMOUS DRIVING
Vehicle safety, for sure, has enhanced due to AE. The regulatory norms and consumer focus on safety has pushed AE to its newer heights. Many of the safety features in today's vehicle are operable due to the enhanced innovative AE footprint.
In the AE domain, a large shift towards remote diagnostics, autonomous driving and co-sharing is dominant. This will generate humongous data that will need to be managed, streamed and transmitted through standardised protocols. There is no firm common roadmap today that deduces these aspects for the automakers to move to this next level. Also, the auto industry is proactively collecting data on driver behaviour, usage of a vehicle and its subsystems.
For example, tyres with RFID and connectivity are becoming a standard offering in mature markets in order to understand usage and driver behaviour. Insurance, urban development and governmental agencies are collating such information to monitor traffic movement, control costs and continue improving road, driver and occupant safety. With this big data transfer, the industry will have to develop ways to monetise such business opportunities that help provide flexibility to consumers.
Not much is talked about the role of AE in the reduction of CO2 footprint. With better semiconductors, improved thermal management, variety of communication protocols and embedded systems, the controllers and architectures in AE have advanced considerably. Physical size of electronics has reduced too, along with its ability to operate in hostile environment. Smart control strategies coupled with AE have helped reduce tail pipe emissions.
The holistic package of the powertrain from generating energy, propelling the vehicle until the tailpipe has reduced vehicle carbon footprint. The average emissions level of a new vehicle is about 120 gCO2/km. The 2015 and 2021 targets represent reductions of 18 % and 40 % respectively compared with the 2007 fleet average of about 160 gCO2/km. These have become possible due to the advancement of AE interweaved in vehicle sub-systems and other peripheral sub-processes.
Automakers' attitude necessitates higher agility to synchronise AE with developmental cycles of electronics and ability to monetise big data ecosystems. Continued sustainable AE growth will only be conceivable with lower CO2, scalable and modular smart solutions.