The Changing Automotive Industry Landscape

The complex E/E architecture of modern vehicles makes network design and software development daunting.


By Lance Brooks and Brendan Morris

Consumer demand for sophisticated highly connected vehicles that provide advanced features is forcing the global automotive industry to develop more advanced electrical and electronic (E/E) architectures. The increasing adoption of connected features in all categories and segments, including on and off-road vehicles, is also driving powerful smart features through the integration of underlying functions. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and Tier-1 transportation suppliers rely on electrical wiring and electronic components to operate these advanced capabilities. In addition, automotive and network design and software development are becoming more daunting with the explosion of these advanced components.

According to a 2021 report by McKinsey & Company, “Rewiring car electronics and software architecture for the ‘Roaring 2020s’” (Aug. 4, 2021), the automotive industry is transitioning to a software-enabled ecosystem. With technology advancements such as autonomous driving, connectivity, shared mobility, and vehicle electrification, software architecture and vehicle electronics requirements are transforming the transportation industry – and it will continue over the next ten years, according to McKinsey. This transformation led by software drives consumer buying behaviors and vendor differentiation with unique features that enhance the driver’s experience.

Today, network designers and software engineers need to determine how to manage the multitude of new considerations for their next-generation vehicle. This involves managing electronic complexity, government regulations, new business models, and automated driving. Also, cost and time pressures on the OEMs and systems integrators is a critical concern, and they must ensure having the right products at the right time to meet these demands while dealing with supply chain issues caused by the global pandemic. Modern solutions are needed to keep up with the combined pressures of vehicle complexity and shorter product development schedules, compounded by competitors racing to get their feature-rich automobiles to market faster.

For modern automotive architectural design, a key challenge is the decomposition of E/E requirements from a high-level multi-domain vehicle model. Multi-domain modelling at the top level will cover mechanical, E/E, software, thermal and other domains that comprise the final vehicle. Engineers can extract E/E aspects from this model to drive the construction of an E/E architecture and further processes downstream. Throughout this process, the engineering team concerned with definition, design, and delivery of modern E/E architectures must balance many interdependent requirements. These requirements include topology, functional safety (FuSa), cyber security, power modes, processor, network and gateway loadings, component and software re-use.

This eBook discusses each of these interdependent requirements and technologies, followed by the network architecture and significant design challenges. Since the E/E architecture found in today’s vehicles are advanced and complex, key features delivered by functionality are distributed across multiple discrete electronic control units (ECUs) that are responsible for controlling a specific function in the vehicle. The eBook reader will better understand the electrical architecture definition and design considering technologies and performance. Consideration of network load and timing, Ethernet and switches, functional safety and network design, designing for safety and cyber security, power modes, generative design and embedded software development. A section on the criticality of software development includes how to deploy safe and secure automotive-grade embedded software with validation and verification (V&V) using virtual ECUs to shift left the process.

A “must-read” for anyone wanting to learn more about today’s E/E systems design, “The Changing Automotive Industry Landscape” eBook by Siemens Digital Industries Software is a valuable resource that easily explains the various aspects of E/E architecture domains. With the increasing demand for smart and connected vehicles, this eBook addresses the importance of an integrated software-centric ecosystem that will only continue to evolve exponentially in the future.

To download the eBook, go to:

Brendan Morris is a senior technical marketing manager for the Integrated Electrical Systems group, Siemens Digital Industries Software. Morris spent his early career working in Automotive Tier 1 suppliers on a diverse range of technologies and vehicle types, including software development in powertrain electronics.  He also worked for several vehicle OEMs at all stages of vehicle development programs, including series engineering and leading research projects at Jaguar Land Rover. 

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