The market for electronic control units (ECUs) alone stood at just under $48 billion in 2010, some 29% higher than 2009. Overall, electronic vehicle content is forecast to grow by just under 8% annually to 2015. Some application areas will show exceptionally high growth (in excess of 50%). These include pure EVs, head-up displays, drowsiness detection, LED lighting, stop/start, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring. By 2010, electronic systems and software comprised 30% of the cost of conventional (gas) vehicles and 65% of the cost of hybrid and electric vehicles.
Key Electrical Connections
Driver experience (including safety, comfort, ecology, economy)—the connection between the car and its passengers—has become as important as the cars purpose as a means of transport. The industry has focused on how to make vehicles more people-friendly for the last 20-30 years. As a result, electric subsystems feature in many of the car's systems. Some of the key connections between people and vehicles (both in production and in research) include:
· Electrification of driver comfort and entertainment,
· Electrification of the drive train to reduce emissions,
· Navigation, GPS, cloud navigation giving immediate access to information,
· Electric power infrastructure and minimizing power,
· 'Platooning’ vehicles together, sign/ pedestrian/road line recognition, and
· Autonomous vehicles, where the driver becomes unnecessary.
Implementing the kinds of connections above makes cars more complex—just how much more complex can be seen in the amount of software that automotive engineers produce.
Automotive systems are starting to approach the same level of software complexity that modern operating systems contain—anything from a staggering 50m to 300m lines of code. In fact, automotive systems are actually more complex than that, since the interaction with the mechatronic system of the vehicle is far more important than in a computer. The car can kill you; the computer probably won’t.
At the 2010 SAE International conference, top engineers from Honda, GM, Ford, BMW, Chrysler, PSA