What software developers need to know about 2019 automotive industry trends
August 12, 2019

Automotive Industry Trends in 2019: What Software Developers Need to Know

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We are in a significant period of change for the automotive industry with major enhancements to automotive software and technology. Some of these enhancements have been disruptive — not only for the industry, but for software development teams as well.

By learning about these disruptive trends, your software development teams can be more prepared to effectively handle them.

Disruption: Technology Trends in the Automotive Industry

It used to be that all you had to do was look under the hood to understand how your car worked. However, it's no longer that simple. Modern automobiles are designed with many digital features that require millions of lines of code to ensure that they function reliably and safely.

These technological enhancements have introduced new challenges for automotive software developers. What’s more, if teams are unprepared or unfamiliar with these disruptive automotive industry trends, it could negatively impact development time and quality.

However, by reviewing the most significant trends, your teams can adequately prepare. Here are the most significant automotive trends of 2019.


Connectivity has become a common feature for nearly every electronic device — including automobiles. Drivers want access to their apps, wireless devices, music, and more while they’re behind the wheel. That means that many embedded devices installed in vehicles are cellular, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth-enabled.

However, each embedded device provides cybercriminals with another opportunity to hack the vehicle and all connected devices. For that reason, it is important that automotive software development teams use secure coding practices to ensure that there are no gaps in a vehicle’s cybersecurity.

Autonomous Driving

Even though fully autonomous vehicles are unlikely to become commonplace in the very short term, automotive developers are making great strides to make that technology a reality. However, even when the technology becomes available, it may take drivers a bit longer to adjust.

A significant challenge for automotive software development teams is to convince the public thatself-driving cars are safe. A simple — yet necessary — practice to achieve this goal is for automotive software development teams to follow SOTIF (ISO/PAS 21448).

SOTIF provides guidance on design, verification, and validation measures. Applying these measures ensures safety without failure in situations such as a self-driving car sharing the road with human drivers.

Safety Improvements

Human error accounts for 94% of all car crashes, according to the most recent research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. To compensate for this staggering number, automotive developers are making vehicles safer by making them smarter.

These safety features — such as blind-spot monitoring, driver-attention monitoring, and forward-collision warning — rely on the sensors installed in the automobile to be aware of its constantly changing surroundings. This presents a challenge for automotive software developers to ensure that the embedded devices for these safety features are adaptive, reliable, and efficient.

Key Automotive Industry Trends For Software Development Teams

To better understand the ongoing challenges affecting automotive software developers, we surveyed over 400 of them. In the survey, we asked about the current automotive trends that impacted them the most and how they handled those difficulties.

We recorded all of their responses in the 2019 State of Automotive Software Development Survey. Here are some of the key findings:


Hackers are the largest security concern for over half of the automotive software developers that we surveyed. As more software is installed into a vehicle, there is a greater risk that hackers could gain access to the onboard and offboard systems. In fact, the number of cyberattacks on automobiles increased 500% from 2014 to 2018, according to cybersecurity company Upstream Security.

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

Design is most impacted by connected vehicles, according to the software developers that we surveyed. Connectivity impacts how both software and hardware are designed. What’s more, the feature will be standard for many vehicles, as there will be an estimated 470 million connected cars on the road by 2025, according to the Digital Auto Report 2017 from Strategy&, PwC’s strategic consulting team.

However, connectivity is not the only automotive trend that software developers are facing. Nearly half of the automotive software developers we surveyed are working on some autonomous vehicle components, while 22% are focused on designing a fully autonomous vehicle. Similar to connectivity-enabled vehicles, the number of autonomous vehicles is expected to steadily increase over the next several years.

ISO 26262

Over two-thirds of the automotive software developers that we surveyed are required to comply with ISO 26262, a complex functional safety standard. What’s more, the top concern of those surveyed was how difficult it is to fulfill every ISO 26262 requirement. Proving compliance is a time-consuming challenge.

In fact, verifying and validating software was the most time-consuming task for nearly a third of the automotive software developers surveyed — with documenting work a close second. Both of these activities are key for ensuring safety and proving compliance.

And More Automotive Industry Trends in 2019…

Software developers have become an integral part of automotive development as more and more digital components are added. These enhancements create new challenges that can be difficult if automotive software teams are unprepared.

Yet, by reviewing industry research — such as the 2019 State of Automotive Software Development — your team can be better prepared. Not only for the challenges this year, but also for years to come.

Download the report today and learn what automotive developers said about everything from ISO 26262 to connected and autonomous vehicles.