Automotive embedded software development costs outpace other apps

Rising costs of software development should not come as a surprise, but its impact on the automotive sector from 1999 through 2002 is an eye opener. Software now accounts for more than one-third of total automobile production costs, according to a Venture Development Corp. (VDC) worldwide survey of automotive embedded developers published in October 2003.

01/15/2004


Rising costs of software development should not come as a surprise, but its impact on the automotive sector from 1999 through 2002 is an eye opener. Software now accounts for more than one-third of total automobile production costs, according to a Venture Development Corp . (VDC) worldwide survey of automotive embedded developers published in October 2003.


Software development costs for the automotive industry sector are above the average of 33.5% for all industries.

Driving the trend is embedded software’s importance in vehicles to manage more electronics needed to meet new safety, fuel economy, and environmental protection requirements. More comfort and convenience features, including multimedia and entertainment services, add to the software development "load." Under-the-hood and in-cab subsystems must increasingly communicate in real time with each other and the driver, calling for more complex and costly software in the electronic control units.

Added software licensing costs likewise enter the picture. Automotive OEMs continually seek to shorten design cycles and improve product quality/safety, for example, developing and testing vehicles in a virtual prototyping environment. This relies on help from more modeling, simulation, and test automation tools.

"Looking ahead, the indication from developers is that neither total software development costs nor the costs of licensing commercial operating systems and tools are likely to decrease," says Stephen Balacco, embedded software analyst at VDC. However, he expects "that as technologies mature the total cost of software development should decrease."
The study—" Embedded Developers’ Demand and Requirements for Commercial OSs and Software Development Tools (Volume I: Current Practices and Emerging Requirements in the Automotive Vertical Market )"—is available from VDC.

—Frank J. Bartos, executive editor, Control Engineering, fbartos@reedbusiness.com





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