An auto industry consortium is on schedule to create an open software standard, but AUTOSAR members disagree on how far to take the project.

The group has grown from 10 core members - seven automakers and three suppliers - to 70 because companies recognise the potential savings and quality improvements from speaking a common language.

All agree a common electronics standard can save everyone money and reduce electronic flaws in cars. But automakers and major Tier 1 suppliers have opposite positions on expanding AUTOSAR (Automotive Open System
Architecture) to allow full standardised software modules.

Some suppliers fear that level of standardisation might cost them the lucrative position of being systems integrators. They also fear automakers would use the standard to turn proprietary-technology modules and systems into commodity products.

Automakers want the ability to switch more easily between modules and suppliers, says Burkhard Göschel, BMW board member for research, development and purchasing.

"Hardware solutions will become less important," he says.

That's exactly what worries Tier 1 suppliers that make those modules.

"Clearly, members have different visions and objectives," says Martin Haub, Valeo group vice president for R&D and product marketing. "Some wanted standardised and interchangeable software modules. Others, such as Valeo, have more realistic goals. We primarily want to achieve a common structure and interface standards."

Members see AUTOSAR differently. BMW's Göschel says: "The project is developing in an extraordinarily positive way."

Haub is more cautious. "After the first euphoria, we have now entered a phase of critical but perhaps more realistic reflection," he says.

Hella will integrate its own standard with AUTOSAR's, says Winfried Menge, head of business development and marketing in the German supplier's electronics division.

"Perhaps there will be a point when the common vision needs to be adjusted," Menge says. "AUTOSAR clearly describes the vision of the OEMs, but its target to improve cost and quality is shared by everyone in the industry."

AUTOSAR spokesman Thomas Scharnhorst says AUTOSAR "makes systems integration easier and encourages the re-use of hardware and software." This means systems integration conceivably could be done by partners with less knowledge.

Scharnhorst, who is also head of Volkswagen system electronics, favours protecting highly innovative technology.

He says: "Intellectual property such as functional algorithms can and need to be protected."

Automotive News Europe