Software-Defined Vehicle | Dorleco

Software-Defined Vehicle

Software-Defined Vehicle


The automotive industry has been piloting innovative technologies on its path of continuous transformation to meet the ever-changing customer demands. Furthermore, the quicker time-to-market for emerging technologies in the automotive industry has allowed a lot of research and development in this field as compared to others.

The advent of artificial intelligence, high-speed communication and connectivity, and digital product engineering have given rise to the adoption of a software base in the modern-day automobile.  With this, the software has grown increasingly important to enable advances in safety, security, and performance features to create custom driver experiences.

Over the next decade, megatrends such as electrification, mobility, connectivity, and autonomous driving are set to create a magnitude of change and revolutionize the automotive business.  These trends play a key role in driving the automotive community toward a software-centric approach to address niche requirements.

Each of these trends is equally powerful by themselves and their combination can only be extremely disruptive to the automotive industry. This industry trend is also known by many names, one of them being CASE – Connected, Automated, Shared, and Electric.

These new changes to the industry are predominantly driven by the three most important drivers of the adoption of technology in the automotive world:

  1. The new requirements of the OEMs
  2. The standardization of hardware and software
  3. The software-defined vehicle

What is a software-defined vehicle?

A software-defined vehicle is a term coined to describe a vehicle that primarily uses software in most of its operations. A luxury car today has around 100 million lines of code when compared to an F-35 fighter jet which has 25 million.

A space shuttle, even less!  This level of sophistication is largely due to the growing array of ECUs, sensors, cameras, radar, and lidar devices in vehicles.

According to a study by Accenture, by 2030 software will account for 40% of the total value proposition of a vehicle. In comparison, this figure stood at just 10% in 2015.  Functions such as cybersecurity, over-the-air (OTA) updates, ADAS, and many new services are driving the software wave.

A fully autonomous car of the near future can easily have over 300 million lines of code which are compelling OEMs and Tier 1s to increasingly turn to automotive software providers to address them.


Software-Defined Vehicle | Dorleco Software-Defined Vehicle | Dorleco


The explosion of OEM requirements has been on the rise for new vehicle programs which is one of the major driving factors toward a software-defined vehicle.  OEMs have shifted their focus to software-enabled features that add value to the user and also help them place their product in a market that’s uniquely their own.

These ever-expanding software requirements are introducing an evolution in E/E architectures that can match in simplicity and capability.  This requires the hardware to be standardized and the software to be separated.

With the software functions progressing from decentralized ECUs towards a more centralized system that will have only a limited number of domain control units (DCU), the industry has started to rethink different innovative approaches to vehicle software and E/E architecture. 

 Benefits | Challenges | Opportunities

 Automotive software-related recalls have been on the rise.  The current recall process involves car manufacturers sending emails/letters to customers, who then drive to dealerships for manual software updates.

With the introduction of software-defined vehicles, customers will be able to receive over-the-air (OTA) updates, just like our smartphones!  This technology also enables improvements to infotainment, and telematics and can also monitor and tune the powertrain and vehicle dynamics.

The software-defined vehicle will be designed to provide custom driver experiences.  The ECUs/DCUs will exchange huge amounts of data with sensors and actuators which provides automakers with vehicle-specific insights.

This in turn can develop into a revenue-generating stream for OEMs and can also result in building a deeper connection with the customer.

 The adoption of software-centric approaches also presents some cultural and business-related challenges. 

  •  OEMs and Tier 1s will have to rework their relationships and business models in their supply chain.
  • The introduction of advanced software tools and processes will require up-skilling of the automotive community.
  • New software features require better management of the project roadmap for effective development and deployment and need to be done in a manner that adds value.
  • More software means more possibilities for cyberattacks. An attacker from anywhere in the world can potentially access a vehicle’s systems via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular network, etc.
  • Therefore innovative strategies and robust approaches are important for hardening systems against such attacks.

 Software-Defined Vehicle | Dorleco Software-Defined Vehicle | Dorleco


 The way high-security requirements are driving more stringent cybersecurity requirements which will eventually strengthen the system,  we should be able to tap into many more potential opportunities that lie within the challenges.

OEMs are having to make major strategic decisions to develop software for their upcoming vehicle programs.

  1. OEMs have the option of turning themselves into software powerhouses if they decide to develop in-house software to meet the needs across domains.
  2. OEMs can also decide to develop only some of the deeply differentiating domains and outsource the balance of their software needs.
  3. Or they can even completely outsource all their software development and services to specialized software providers.

 To a great extent, the car of the future will be defined by its software features and its ability to meet expectations derived from conventional software platforms.  The integration of new industry players and mainstream technology providers will pave the way toward a successful software-defined future!

This allows a lot of new automotive software technology companies like Dorleco to step in and make a mark in the automotive domain by partnering with major OEMs and Tier 1s. Looking for an end-to-end software solution for your next intelligent vehicle? Write to to know more about how we can help.

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