Electric Vehicle Software | Electric Vehicle Development
October 11, 2021

Electric Vehicle Overview: Electric Vehicle Software

Static Analysis
Software Quality

Currently, electric vehicles make up less than 1% of cars currently on the road, according to global business-focused news organization, Quartz. However, within the next decade that will rapidly change. By 2040, it is estimated that electric vehicles will make up roughly 33% of all cars on the road, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance study.

As the electric vehicle market will only continue to grow, it is essential that you have a clear understanding of electric vehicle development and electric vehicle software.

Read along or jump ahead to the section that interests you the most:

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Electric Vehicle Overview

An electric vehicle (EV) uses one or more electric motors for propulsion and is powered by a battery or with electricity from extravehicular sources stored in a collector system.

In general, electric vehicles come in three main types — each one with its own unique power system.

Battery-Electric Vehicles

Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) have a large battery that powers one or more electric motors.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have both batteries and a fuel tank. When a PHEV uses up its electric range, it then switches to its internal combustion engine (ICE).

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles

Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have numerous cells that are combined into a stack that chemically combines hydrogen gas from the vehicle’s tank and oxygen from the air to produce electricity.

Electric Vehicle Battery

As the battery pack is a core part of every electric vehicle, electric car battery maintenance is vital. The battery management system (BMS) collects data on the battery’s internal state to both protect the battery and control the power storage This determines how much energy is entering and exiting the battery pack, and the remaining charge in the battery to ensure that the battery will not operate outside of its safety margins.

Electric Vehicles vs Internal Combustion Engine

Apart from the difference in what powers each type of vehicle, there are some key differences between electric vehicles and those with an ICE.

The components of an electric vehicle are much simpler than those of an ICE. There are only around 20 moving parts in an electric engine, compared to the nearly 2,000 in an ICE.

Instead of the complex mechanical systems in an ICE, embedded software is necessary for an electric vehicle to run. For example, the motor controller — which monitors and regulates functions such as the battery and accelerator — is completely controlled by software.

What’s more, the software is used to manage the vehicle — particularly the monitoring system that provides diagnostics regarding performance and maintenance.

Electric Vehicle Software

Embedded software is essential to the functioning of an electric vehicle. Software updates for ICE vehicles are traditionally performed by cables in a workshop. 

As the amount of software increases and particularly for the many software components that make up electric vehicles, over-the-air (OTA) updates make it easier to enhance the functionality, safety, and security of the vehicle. Automatic installation of software and firmware through cloud connectivity ensures that electric vehicle software remains up to date thus ensuring optimal performance.

Electric vehicle software offers smart features, including the following:

Electric Vehicle Software: Connectivity

All modern vehicles emphasize the connectivity of onboard embedded systems. This is generally for the convenience of the drivers and occupants. However, for electric vehicles, there are additional requirements for connectivity. This provides improved vehicle safety and efficiency, as well as other beneficial features, including driver assistance and predictive navigation.

For example, remote diagnostics that feature real-time alerts can enable proactive servicing — avoiding or reducing service and repair times.

Since driving range is currently a major concern for most types of electric vehicles, route planning is essential. Therefore, smart navigation software that can recommend the optimal route based on collected data is essential. Integrated with the car head unit, smart navigation enables drivers to find the closest charging station. This system is complemented by the BMS, which provides data on the charge of the battery and an estimate of how long until it is depleted.

Electric Vehicle Software: Maintenance

As electric vehicles have special maintenance and repair requirements, a monitoring system for automobile diagnostics — such as a BMS — is essential for identifying problems. These systems can notify the driver about specific automotive parts that need to be inspected by a mechanic according to the vehicle’s specifications.

Additionally, electric vehicle software helps evaluate vehicle performance and find weak spots in its design.

📕 Related Resource: Guide to Automotive Software Development

Key Standards for Electric Vehicles

Currently, there is no specific electric vehicle standard that the automotive industry must follow. However, the same standards required for vehicles with an ICE also apply to electric vehicles. This includes ISO 26262, which applies to electric and/or electronic systems in vehicles.

A key software requirement of ISO 26262 is that a coding standard must be used for compliance. The most commonly used coding standard has traditionally been MISRA and that is recommended but AUTOSAR C++14 coding guidelines have also been widely adopted. A static code analysis tool — such as Helix QAC — should be used in order to enforce and verify compliance to the selected coding standard.

📕 Related Resource: You can learn more about ISO 26262 helps to ensure that automotive software is functionally safe.

Why Static Code Analysis Is Essential to Electric Vehicle Development

One of the most effective ways to ensure that the embedded software in an electric vehicle is safe, reliable, and compliant is to use a static code analysis tool, like Helix QAC.

A static code analysis tool helps enforce key automotive coding guidelines such as MISRA and AUTOSAR C++14, and assists with compliance to functional safety standards such as ISO 26262.

In addition, it improves software quality by:

  • Detecting compliance issues earlier in development.
  • Enforcing coding standards.
  • Accelerating code reviews.
  • Reporting on compliance over time and across product versions.

See how Helix QAC can help accelerate compliance, as well as improve the safety and reliability of your automotive software. Sign up for a free trial today.

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