Carmaking is undoubtedly complex. Ten years ago, a standard car was already estimated to contain 2,000 functional components, 30,000 parts, and 10,000 million lines of code. In an attempt to standardize this increasingly complicated process, AUTOSAR was born. But benefits aside, issues such as complexity and significant initial investment are preventing automakers from unlocking the full potential of AUTOSAR. While long-term investment is crucial, strategies such as leveraging third-party service providers emerge as a shortcut to accelerate AUTOSAR implementation.

Software: Reprogramming the future of cars

The complexity of carmaking has grown exponentially in the last decades, fueled by a growing competition to reinvent the in-car experience. Indeed, a study estimated that the number of code lines required to make one typical car had risen to 10 million in 2010 from a mere 2.4 million in 2005. To put it in context, a standard car contains nearly twice as many code lines as a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, which stands at 6.5 million lines [1]. But that was 10 years ago. With the current megatrends relying heavily on software capabilities, such as EV, IVI, and autonomous vehicles, it is undoubted that the complexity of car production has increased tremendously in recent years. 
With that being said, strengthening software capabilities has become of utmost priority for carmakers and their suppliers to gain a competitive edge in the market. In fact, a McKinsey & Company study reveals that high-performing software organizations report three to six times higher development throughput and quality than their lower-performing counterparts. Unsurprisingly, global carmakers are entering a race for software development. For instance, Toyota, the world's top-selling automaker, plans to expand its software engineer workforce to a whopping total of 18,000 people by 2025 [2]. Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor Group, a leading Korean automotive manufacturer, intends to invest US$ 13 billion to strengthen software-defined vehicle capabilities [3].

Despite rising efforts and investment, the industry’s software capability has yet to catch up with the complexity of automotive software. A study by McKinsey and Company concludes that while the complexity of automotive software increased by a factor of 4.0 in the last decade, its relative software development capability lags behind significantly, growing merely by a factor of 1.0. Such a gap is most severe with increasingly complex components, such as infotainment (IVI) and advanced driver assistance (ADAS) [2]

A call for standardization – AUTOSAR 

In an attempt to empower automotive innovations with reduced complexity and enhanced development efficiency, AUTOSAR (AUTomotive Open System ARchitecture) has been introduced. Simply put, AUTOSAR is a framework for developing standardized software and open E/E system architecture, formed under the partnership of leading global automotive companies, such as BMW, Bosch, and Continental [4]. AUTOSAR significantly accelerates the development of complex automotive software by enabling:

- Reuse of software: AUTOSAR defines standardized software architecture to ensure software components developed for one vehicle model can be reused for others. 
- Improved flexibility: With standardized architecture, ECUs are compatible with different systems without requiring significant modification. 
- Enhanced system integration: Well-defined integration standards ensure software components are adaptable to various systems, which improves system reliability. 
- Efficient software development: Standardized software components are more efficient as they enable optimization in development effort, testing, and maintenance. 

Benefits aside, implementing AUTOSAR does come with challenges, with one of the most significant concerns being overcoming system complexity. Unsurprisingly, AUTOSAR involves complex software architecture, design, and implementation, which may challenge the current know-how and operations that have existed in businesses for decades. Closely following complexity, significant initial investment and difficulty in training occupy the second and third spots on the AUTOSAR drawback list. Given the complexity of the framework, it is undoubted that long-term, extensive training is required. But, the investment in AUTOSAR implementation not only involves the cost of training, it also covers the cost of building a learning curve as a result of failed projects in the early implementation phase. Moreover, the challenge is even intensified in markets such as South Korea, where increasing demand for AUTOSAR Application SW Development (Model-based design and Non-Model-based design), AUTOSAR platform development, AUTOSAR configuration, integration, and testing has led to an AUTOSAR talent shortage for OEMs and OEM Tier 1. While long-term investment in AUTOSAR-focused human resources is critical, there are certain quick-win remedies that automakers can adopt to accelerate their AUTOSAR journey, such as leveraging third-party service providers.

Third-party service provider for quick-win

Successful AUTOSAR implementation requires a solid foundation of expertise, experience, and manpower, which may take automakers years to develop. But more than that, the global developer shortage is intensifying the challenge, with an IDC report estimating the global developer shortage to reach 4 million by 2025 [5]. Similarly, the world’s 5th largest car-producing country, South Korea, requires additional training for as many as 20,000 workers to ensure the industry’s smooth transition to future-car transformation [6]. Leveraging partners, hence, emerges as a quick-win remedy, allowing automakers and OEM Tier 1 to achieve immediate successful AUTOSAR implementation in a matter of months. Moreover, partnering with AUTOSAR-experienced vendors helps infuse carmakers’ employees with the required expertise and skills to accelerate their AUTOSAR journey in the long term. 

One of the biggest OEM Tier 1 suppliers in South Korea stands out as a prominent case study for leveraging third-party service providers for quick wins. The company needed to develop two strategic components: (1) AUTOSAR BSW SRS/SWS List for 4.4.0 and HMC ES SRS on target board Aurix TC39x/TC37x and (2) safety modules with ASIL-D and ASPICE Level 1. To actualize their vision with optimized development time and effort, the company has partnered with FPT Software, a leading automotive service provider with 12+ years in AUTOSAR, a high-skilled workforce of over 500 AUTOSAR experts, and strict compliance with ISO26262 A-SIL A/B/C/D and A-SPICE Level 3. Despite the time pressure, FPT Software managed to deliver 76 modules with A-Spice Level 2 compliance in just 12 months. At peak times, 180 engineers worked in parallel with only 8 hardware/licenses. Besides that, four different test levels were applied: Static check, Unit test (100% coverage), Integration (100% coverage), and System Test. ASPICE processes are a MUST, and Safety (ASIL-D) certification needs to be achieved.

Author Trang Nguyen Vu Quynh