View all newsletters
Receive our newsletter - data, insights and analysis delivered to you
  1. Analysis
February 28, 2011updated 22 Jul 2022 11:23am

RESEARCH ANALYSIS: Review of electrical and electronic distribution systems

The feature content of new cars is increasing on a daily basis. Yet features like multimedia systems, cell phones, rear seat entertainment, remote keyless entry and tyre pressure monitoring systems all consume more energy. As part of just-auto.com’s annual rolling review of electrical and electronic distribution systems, Matthew Beecham asks how is this trend impacting on vehicle electrical and electronic architectures?

By Matthew Beecham

The feature content of new cars is increasing on a daily basis. Yet features like multimedia systems, cell phones, rear seat entertainment, remote keyless entry and tyre pressure monitoring systems all consume more energy.  As part of just-auto.com’s annual rolling review of electrical and electronic distribution systems, Matthew Beecham asks how is this trend impacting on vehicle electrical and electronic architectures?

In the European market, a lot of new vehicle functions are coming in the direction of higher levels of security, driver assistance systems, and in-car entertainment. This is ‘complexifying’ vehicle electrical and electronic architectures.

Manufacturers are, therefore, developing novel, cost-effective ways in which to integrate those new features. On the one hand, that means they must continually review the EEDS (electrical and electronic distribution systems) architecture and push back the technical boundaries with innovative integration solutions.

On the other hand, they must ensure costs are kept under control by reusing modules, functionalities, hardware and software parts wherever possible.

In addition to cost pressures, manufacturers report that the two major forces driving the EEDS market today relate to safety and environmental concerns.

In response, they are developing more and more technologies aimed at assisting the driver to avoid critical situations.  More specifically, they are combining active with passive safety systems in order to create a complete safety solution, aided by telematics. The other major driving force is the need to improve fuel consumption and cut emissions.  We are seeing more and more hybrid and electric vehicles supporting this trend.  Both of these trends can be only be solved by the increasing use of electronics.

While there is a continuous flow of alternative technologies into the vehicle that allow for reduced circuitry per feature, can it keep pace with the number and complexity of features being introduced into today’s cars?

Bill Presley, director, global wire engineering, electrical systems division, Lear Corporation told us that Lear is confident that advances in technology to reduce circuitry per feature will continue to keep pace with the complexity of features being added to the vehicle.  He said: “Both OEMs and suppliers have a common goal: reduce weight, size, cost and improve quality.  These are powerful motivators in the quest for technological advancement.”

AUTOSAR (AUTomotive Open System ARchitecture) has a key role to play in the EEDS sector.  AUTOSAR is an open and standardised automotive software architecture, jointly developed by vehicle makers, suppliers and tool developers.

Dr Stefan Bunzel, spokesperson for AUTOSAR, points out that AUTOSAR enables the development of systems with increased complexity at reasonable costs with high quality, e.g. new driver assistance systems, safety systems, and systems for electromobility.

“Standardisation leads to improved quality, shorter lead times and lower costs. The AUTOSAR standard allows software components provided by OEMs or other suppliers to be easily integrated. Beneath the improvements regarding the development methodology and processes AUTOSAR enables to benefit from new hardware technology, e.g. by considering multicore or partitioning approaches.”

Over the past decade, greater functionality has led to complex architectures in modern vehicles.  Presley believes that with such functionality, auto manufacturers need to find a way to perform more functions with the same size, or smaller electrical distribution system, adding: “This leads to greater multiplexing and more complex communication protocol on the vehicle.  Any other approach leads to wire harnesses which are so large in size that they become packaging prohibitive.  Multiplexing and communication busses mean sensitive communication and signal circuits must be carried in the same wire bundle that also carries power signals.”

Presley is also seeing  seeing more and more inter-connects which are protocol based. “These sensitive communication and signal circuits must be carried in the same wire bundle that also carries power signals.  That means electrical distribution engineers must not only be concerned with the mechanical integrity of the system but also with the electromagnetic compatibility of their wire harness design.  Special measures need to be taken to protect the sensitive signal circuits from corruption due to switching power circuits.  Lear brings that knowhow to the product design because our internal knowledge of wiring, electrical centres and electronics gives us a full vehicle system perspective.”

As far as tomorrow’s car is concerned, the clear trend is toward vehicles that are smaller, lighter and use a range of powertrains and materials.  Small engines, hybrids, diesels, more fuel-efficient gasoline engines and electric vehicles will be commonplace in ten years time.

“Electronics play an outstanding part particularly in today’s engine concepts,” added Bunzel.  “At present, over one third of a vehicle’s added value is attributable to its electronics and information systems. This proportion will rise to over 50 percent in future years. AUTOSAR has been gaining remarkable momentum regarding application in series projects at many members and partners.

“First cars with AUTOSAR technology are already on the road. Several OEMs have started the development of high volume vehicle platforms which apply AUTOSAR at most of their ECUs. This comes along with many AUTOSAR series projects at suppliers and tool providers. AUTOSAR paves the way for innovative electronic systems that further improve performance, safety and environmental friendliness, and it is a key enabling technology to manage the growing electrics / electronics complexity. It aims to be prepared for the upcoming technologies and to improve cost-efficiency without making any compromise with respect to quality.”

NEWSLETTER Sign up Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. The top stories of the day delivered to you every weekday. A weekly roundup of the latest news and analysis, sent every Monday. The industry's most comprehensive news and information delivered every quarter.
I consent to GlobalData UK Limited collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
SUBSCRIBED

THANK YOU

Thank you for subscribing to Just Auto