Why automobile will be the most complex digital product in the future
With the digital transformation, consumer behavior and distribution channels, value chains and competition are changing everywhere. But when it comes to automotive industry the digitization is aimed at the core of the product itself. Till now , the engine was the technological heart of the automobile. Now, the software is taking over this position. Why? how? We shall explore in this article.
From now on, the competitiveness of OEMs and tier-1 suppliers alike will be determined more by the intelligence of the system more than the performance of the machine. New intelligent sensors together with increasing connectivity are creating a “data eruption” in the vehicle, which needs to be processed intelligently and translated into new services.
With a maximum a 10 million lines of code in a passenger car compared to 4 million lines of code in a typical fighter jet, the complexity of the software in ever increasing in an automobile.
Integrating engineering with the power of disruptive innovation
There are many opportunities in all this but one of them is a real ultimatum. Industry captains warn that traditional OEMs could be degraded to mere hardware suppliers if they lose their connection to the customer to the providers of new mobility services. It’s also a question of how radically value-creation structures will change. Will established car manufacturers go the way of blackberry or Kodak? With its decision to outsource smartphone production to the “extended workbench” in Asia, and to concentrate solely on the software itself, has Apple set standards that could also apply to the automotive industry? Or is the industry capable of reinventing itself?
Which partnerships make sense now? Will the machine centric approach of the 19th century succeed in reconciling the laws of digitalisation and surpass the legal ramifications of the auto industry? Can we combine the strength of traditional automotive engineering, which is based on incremental improvements of existing technologies, with the power of disruptive innovation? How must traditional organisations, trimmed for efficiency, change to keep pace with the increasing complexity and enormous pace of technological change?
Software is becoming the key center of innovation in the automotive industry
New functions in infotainment and driver assistance systems are developed like apps . The ability to update complex software in fleets “over-the-air” (OTA) is becoming a key enabler that allows for updates and new functions on-demand and in ever-shorter cycles compared to traditional updates via UDS re-flashing. This is because competitive differentiation especially in electric cars — is no longer based on classic vehicle hardware, but on user interface and experience elements driven by advanced electrics and electronics. This makes the software the most important driver of innovation for the entire industry. The recent improvements in ECU technology — upgrading to High performance computers (HPC) to enable fewer ECU with maximum performance is also a clear indicator for software evolution in automotive space.
So what’s next?
One thing is certain: more than ever, the entire industry is concerned with the “mobility experience” and Mobility as a service (MaaS). Flexibility, independence, cybersecurity, networking, flowing movement, freedom and a holistic drive towards post-fossil mobility. Then the short-term shock can be transformed into a long-term gain for the industry. We don’t need a greenfield approach: we need a strategic dialogue between software and hardware.
In my next article I will discuss about penetration and importance of cybersecurity in automotive domain.