Adoption of automotive software OTA updates to accelerate

March 16, 2016 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Marketing firm ABI Research sees the automotive industry ramping up its adoption of Software Over-the-Air (SOTA)-enabled vehicles, forescasting that nearly 203 million OTA-enabled cars will ship by 2022.

According to the firm, both SOTA and Firmware Over-the-Air (FOTA) will see a spike, with nearly 180 million new cars supporting SOTA and 22 million FOTA by 2022. Beyond Tesla, car OEMs will primarily focus the next three to five years on SOTA versus the still nascent FOTA upgrade.

“Three factors changed the course of the automotive industry and paved the way for the future of OTA: recall cost, Tesla’s success as the foundation of autonomous driving, and security risks based on software complexities,” says Susan Beardslee, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. “It is a welcome transformation, as OTA is the only way to accomplish secure management of all of a connected car’s software in a seamless, comprehensive, and fully integrated manner.”

The positive changes that OTA can bestow on the car recall process is alone a vital benefit. In the past two years, the recall rate increased to approximately 46% with four major car OEMs setting aside a combined $20 billion in 2015 in warranty reserves. Though not all recalls can be fixed via an OTA update, ABI Research market analysis suggests that close to one-third of last year’s recalls could have been addressed over the air, saving car OEMs at least $6 billion.

A Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram recall last year addressed a hacking incident with a Jeep, which affected 1.4 million vehicles. To rectify the situation, the OEMs sent USB drives to the identified customers. This method, in place of an OTA update, increased security risk, the plausibility of owner identification, and the inability to ensure that the patch was done and done correctly. Ford and Toyota also faced similar situations through their own recalls.