As much attention as autonomous driving and EVs get, the most obvious change will be the cockpit experience. We see that continuing to evolve rapidly and change the way people evaluate their next purchases and how carmakers differentiate themselves. Horsepower and streamlined exterior aesthetics, while still important, take a back seat to what goes inside the car.
Accustomed to the smart device experience at home or on their mobile phones, consumers are looking for similar experiences in the car. It starts with the obvious visual elements—like bigger, more interactive displays, now reaching from pillar-to-pillar on the dashboard, or even implemented as heads-up displays (HUDs) on the vehicle glass for better safety and convenience.
The “smartphoneization of the car” is becoming more mainstream to the vehicle consumer. Additionally, another growth area we foresee is in user customization of features, such as the basic ability to change the color of the cabin lights in the vehicle. As features like this become more common, manufacturers can further bring in customizations from third-party services like mobile phone makers or wireless network operators, or any number of services appealing to those moving about.
Along those lines, we see the emergence of on-demand subscription services for in-car features expanding in 2023 and beyond. BMW, for example, has begun offering a subscription-based service to activate heated seats or steering wheels, an upgrade that is managed by over-the-air (OTA) software updates.
From our chip-level view, things don’t change too much for traditional vehicle ECU needs. On the hardware design level, the focus is more on ADAS specialization, central computing, and the software that allows the dealer, OEM, or service provider to control these features. As a result, these OTA updates are much more challenging from a software and management perspective than the underlying chip design. This changes the dynamic of how an OEM must manage and understand what is happening in their software development practices, ensuring that they have those capabilities.