A few years ago, the automotive world was debating the idea of over-the-air (OTA) updates for cars. It worked in smartphones and computers, but seemed too risky for vehicles. Now, that debate seems as ancient as installing seatbelts. Automakers have embraced the potential of OTA updating, but they are doing so mainly to non-mission critical software. It is estimated that by 2022 there will be nearly 90 million updates to such features like GPS, telematics, and infotainment systems – and only 13.2 million to mission critical safety-control units.
While the updates that are currently being done are great, and are quickly becoming a normal feature demanded by drivers, automakers are skipping over critical opportunities in updating modules that can both improve cars and provide important aftermarket revenue possibilities. OEMs are at the same point with these updates as they were with all OTA updates a few years ago, with only Tesla updating mission critical code over the air, as opposed to dealers.
Why OEMs Are Leery About the Importance of Safety Critical Updating
Any part whose failure can cause catastrophic consequences to a vehicle’s operation is much harder to update and has not been recognized for its potential profitability, which is why manufacturers tend to focus on non-critical updates. This is seen in the numbers: Core ECU updates were performed in only .04% of cars as of 2015, although this number is expected to increase to 12.4% by 2022. One of the reasons why these updates are lagging is because they are not just logistically challenging, but dangerous to get wrong. They require rigorous testing before they can be pushed out to the consumer. This is understandable, but also means OEMs miss out on the ability to generate huge new revenue streams, and to get more real-time and long-term data on their cars, which, economically and technologically speaking, is mission critical for most manufacturers.
Aftermarket Benefits to Safety Critical Updates
Infotainment systems and other non-critical updates are currently being sold by both OEMs and the companies they work with (Apple, Google, and other tech giants). But updates to safety critical modules are largely being ignored, partly because OEMs do not feel there is a reliable way to implement them. We feel, however, that the mission critical updates are the most crucial ones, and eventually the ones that will generate the most revenue. These updates can include:
- More self-driving capability
- A smarter automatic braking system
- Airbags with better anticipation and reaction times
- Better fuel efficiency
- Updated software connections and inter-ECU capabilities
These are important for all automakers; the question is, how can these be safely implemented? After all, the key to the new era of cars is creating mission critical programming that does not result in catastrophic failure. Updating adds a layer of complexity and a degree of difficulty.
At Movimento, we have received recognition from analysts such as Frost and Sullivan for our ability to enact a thorough and comprehensive testing regime. We specialize in mission-critical architecture. We know that it is crucial not just to an OEM’s bottom line, but to the future of driving itself. Cars are going to have to be remade after they are on the road – not just cosmetically, but fundamentally. Drivers and owners will expect nothing less. The example Tesla sets is one that all automakers have to follow: critical transformations to key automotive components, delivered over the air. We want to go beyond updating apps and transform the very nature of the car itself.
As the auto industry is changed by technological and economic currents, OEMs and Tier-1 manufacturers will need to partner with technological specialists to thrive in the era of the software defined car. Movimento’s expertise is rooted in our background as an automotive company. This has allowed us to create the technological platform that underpins the future of the software driven and self-driven car. Connect with us today to learn more about how we can work together.