A global panel of automakers at Convergence 2008 said this week electronic innovation in automobiles will continue at its torrid pace
despite the current economic turmoil threatening the near-term future of the
economy and mass management are paramount right now," said Chris Thibodeau,
director of global technology engineering for electrical/electronic products at
General Motors (GM). "But we cannot turn away from developing technology in
this (economic) downturn."
from GM, Ford, Honda, Chrysler and BMW at the Car Makers Speak Panel all
agreed electronic content would continue to rise and the only major
concession will be the downsizing of vehicles to meet consumer demand. The
panel, moderated by Paul Hansen, publisher of The Hansen Report on Automotive Electronics,
included representatives from GM, Ford, Chrysler, Honda and BMW.
members warned, however, that although electronic content will rise, the number
of microcontrollers in vehicles will decline as the industry moves to
electronic "domain control."† Most
automakers said the average number of microcontrollers per vehicle now
hovers between 35 and 45; BMW said its average is now between 40 and 50. But
those numbers have probably topped out, they said.
now our maximum," said Gunter Reichart, vice president of driver assistance for
body electronics and electrical networks at BMW. "But we have started a number
of high-integration projects that will reduce that." He said he never expects
the company to rise above the 70 mark in the future.
will decrease and zone-based architectures will emerge," said Andreas Schell,
vice president of electrical/electronics engineering core for Chrysler.
the panel suggested the electronic effect on the overall percentage of a
vehicle's cost has risen beyond the oft-quoted 20 percent figure. Honda and Chrysler
suggested the figure now ranges between 20 percent and 50 percent, while GM declared the
figure to be between 20 percent and 40 percent.
Honda Senior Chief Engineer Toyohei Nakajima said the electronic content figure
could rise dramatically as automakers gravitate toward hybrids and fuel cell
vehicles. "Ninety percent of a fuel cell vehicle's cost could be electrical or
electronic, depending on how you define it," Nakajima said.
automakers agreed, however, that the rising percentage of electronic content
won't be in the traditional hardware areas.
will definitely be in the software domain," Thibodeau said. ††††