In the rapid shift from hardware- to software-defined vehicles, architectures that once contained up to 100 individual electronic control units (ECUs) are now evolving into a handful of high-performance computers (HPCs). This consolidation of vehicle functions enables developers to simplify vehicle designs, reduce wiring, and lay the foundation for next-generation features such as wireless software updates, improved security and safety, and complete self-driving capabilities.
And in this evolution from mechanical to electrical systems, software is quickly becoming the critical factor that gives one automotive brand a competitive advantage over another.
Differentiating software – which is the value added by OEMs and Tier 1s – makes up only around 40% of today’s vehicles, but is now critical for creating new value streams and maximizing ROI. Today’s tech-savvy consumers are less focused on mechanical features such as transmissions or exhaust systems, and are more interested in software-driven functions that create customized and intuitive driving experiences. In addition, they also expect vehicles to update and improve over time, much like the computers and smartphones that have become intrinsic parts of our everyday lives.
Why is software differentiation so critical?
Software differentiation is not simply an opportunity to attract buyers with impressive features, but also to develop new synergies between drivers and vehicles that strengthen consumer loyalty and create more valuable automotive brands. When automakers differentiate their vehicles via software, it also facilitates hardware standardization, a factor that significantly reduces complexity and costs.
There are three primary areas in which differentiated software is so valuable in the era of connected vehicles:
- Digital connectivity: software can enable vehicles to become natural extensions of consumers’ digital lives with advanced smartphone connectivity and AI-powered virtual assistants. These software integrations create more enjoyable motoring while also saving consumers valuable time and effort in their daily lives.
- User experience (UX): innovative human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and vehicle infotainment systems create an enhanced driving experience while helping automakers leverage stronger branding. From simple 2D displays to immersive augmented reality systems, differentiated UX software is a powerful way to attract consumers seeking the newest, safest, and most advanced connected vehicles.
- Driver assistance: advanced navigation and driver-assist features improve on-road safety while also laying the foundation for full self-driving capabilities. These functions are an effective way to improve vehicle safety ratings, comply with new industry regulations, and create additional revenue streams via optional updates and subscription models.
With a growing consumer appetite for the latest features, it’s critical for automotive brands to develop secure, stable, and upgradable software stacks that they can also upgrade over the entire vehicle life cycle. By utilizing specialized tools that simplify the development of advanced HPC architectures, automakers can put more time and resources into the areas where they are the most successful.
Innovation is the key to creating tomorrow’s vehicles
According to many leading OEMs, the majority of innovation now comes not from hardware but software, something that automakers must embrace if they wish to maintain leading positions in the highly competitive market. But despite the accelerating shift towards software-defined vehicles, most brands are not sufficiently equipped to develop these systems and services all on their own.
Driven by the demand for more intelligent and flexible solutions, many automakers are seeking the knowledge and expertise of specialist automotive software companies that can provide all-in-one platforms for developing advanced HPC architectures. These offerings can include high-performance software stacks based on Linux and AUTOSAR, selections of third-party tools, hypervisors, health management capabilities, and tools for creating software and security updates throughout the entire vehicle life cycle.
When aligning with specialist partners, automakers can leverage the products and services needed to drive innovation and create more advanced and valuable software. And by utilizing years of industry experience and the latest HPC software development tools, they can spend less time on infrastructure – and more time on innovation.
Discover more about creating next-gen HPC architectures
Elektrobit (EB) is an award-winning and visionary global supplier of embedded and connected software products and services for the automotive industry. If you would like to discover more about EB’s solutions for developing software-driven HPC architectures, we invite you to read about our latest product offering, EB xelor.
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