The dramatic growth in the complexity of automotive software solutions has been accompanied by challenges related to shorter development times, rising cost pressures and mounting demands for reliable, high-quality products. Competition is intensifying as software suppliers move to satisfy the demands of car manufacturers.
Frost & Sullivan (semiconductors.frost.com) finds that the European Market for Software in Passenger Cars earned revenues of 15.63 billion Euros in 2006 and is estimated to reach $28.84 billion Euros in 2010.
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"The increasing electronic content of vehicles, technological innovation, and escalating competition among car manufacturers to offer exclusive features coupled with strict safety and environmental regulations imposed by governments has led to the explosive growth of the automotive software industry," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Associate Niveditha Srinivasan. "The need for standardising automotive software is also having a direct impact on the market."
Mounting consumer demand for greater comfort, convenience and connectivity has converted cars into mobile computers. Most new functionalities and innovation has been achieved through the development of high quality, cost-effective embedded software. However, the phenomenal growth of software and electronics content in vehicles has increased the complexity of the system.
"To reduce hardware and software components, it is important that functions are combined and correlated into multi-functional systems," says Srinivasan. "The rising need for system integration is pushing the market to greater heights."
A key concern for vehicle manufacturers, integrators and software suppliers remains the increasing liabilities of automotive software. Software components have to meet stringent quality and reliability requirements mandated by the automotive industry. Vehicle recalls caused by defects in software not only translate to significant losses for both car makers and suppliers, but also lead to legal complications as well.
"The biggest challenge the industry faces is to constantly innovate while reducing the cost of advanced offerings," adds Srinivasan. "Customers want greater functionality without a related increase in prices, thereby thwarting attempts by car makers to transfer additional cost burdens to consumers."
As a result, vehicle manufacturers are demanding the accelerated delivery of reliable, high-quality electronic systems at low costs from suppliers. Due to such cost constraints and difficult schedules, the complete verification and testing of software becomes unfeasible. Apart from surging development costs, there has also been a significant increase in maintenance and warranty costs.
"Liabilities are caused not due to misconception of requirements but due to misunderstanding of requirements, emphasising the need for car manufacturers to improve their collaboration with system integrators software suppliers and dealers," advises Srinivasan. "Consortiums like AUTOSAR have come to the rescue of the automotive software industry by bringing about the much needed standardisation of software architecture."
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