Reading time ( words)
While the value of the electronic systems in a modern vehicle typically exceeds 20% of the total vehicle cost, many estimate that this value will exceed 35% within the next five years. With the increased adoption of electronic vehicles and the development of the internet of things (IoT)—which has brought us driverless cars like those being tested by Google in California and BMW on the roads of Bavaria—the future of this industry is starkly different from that of the 1970s when electronic fuel injection systems were first introduced to mainstream production.
The proliferation of automotive electronics has been enabled by the development of powerful networked controllers and low-cost sensors. The development of low-cost, high-reliability electronic systems that have seen engine management, infotainment, and passenger comfort and safety applications becoming standard equipment in most modern automobiles have also contributed.
It is not uncommon for modern new vehicles to be supplied with five- and even seven-year warranties. This is challenging component suppliers to develop new designs that deliver long-term reliability at an acceptable cost. Automotive electronic systems are subject to temperature extremes, high humidity, and condensation and are increasingly exposed to corrosive gases. And with the growth of electric vehicles, where much higher voltages are the norm, increased dielectric protection is required to enable designs to be sufficiently dense to meet size and weight constraints.
The increased sophistication of these electronic systems often means they are more sensitive to contamination and adverse external environmental conditions. Moreover, as automotive electronic systems rely increasingly on their interconnection, failure in one assembly can compromise the operation of another. Unlike aerospace applications where two or three layers of redundancy may be built into these systems, automotive designs typically must work the first time, every time, through-out the life of the product.