Automotive Industry Trends 2021
June 22, 2021

Automotive Industry Trends 2021: What Software Developers Need to Know

Software Quality
Security & Compliance

The automotive industry has been experiencing a great deal of change within the past several years. More software is being added to vehicles, along with a greater number of electric and autonomous vehicles are in production and on the road.

By learning about the emerging trends, you will be more capable of keeping pace with them.

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

➡️ Download the 2021 Automotive Software Report

Emerging Trends in Automotive Software

It used to be that all you had to do was look under the hood to have a working understanding of how your car worked. However, it's no longer that simple. Modern automobiles feature a great deal of software to enhance user experience as well as provide drivers with safety and convenience features. All this software must be designed with both safety and security in mind.

If you are unprepared or unfamiliar with these emerging trends in automotive software, it could negatively impact development time and quality. However, by reviewing the most common trends, you can more adequately prepare. Here are the most common automotive trends of 2021.

A Greater Amount of AI/Machine Learning and Connectivity

As the automotive industry steadily moves toward electric and autonomous vehicles, even more software is being added. That means more developers are leveraging AI and machine learning, and a greater amount of connectivity is being added to vehicles.

Over a third of the automotive professionals that we surveyed are extensively using AI and machine learning to drive innovation in development.

Connected vehicles are becoming ubiquitous with forecasts of 96% of new cars having connectivity built-in by 2030. This allows the provision of safety features such as emergency braking and lane keeping, and also well-being and entertainment functions for driver and passengers via Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth.

However, more connectivity to the outside world provides cybercriminals more opportunities to hack into the vehicle and all connected components. For that reason, it is important that automotive software development teams use secure coding standards — like CERT — to ensure that there are no gaps in a vehicle’s software security.

📕 Related Resource: Learn more about secure coding standards >>>

An Increase In Electric and Autonomous Vehicles

Design has been the most impacted by electric vehicles, according to the software developers that we surveyed. Over the past several years, the electric market has steadily grown and is poised to ramp up in the near future. In fact, according to a BBC report, 20% of all new cars sold globally will be electric by 2025, 40% by 2030, and nearly 100% by 2040.

However, electric vehicle development 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 38% are focused on designing a fully autonomous vehicle. And, while fully autonomous vehicles may not be hitting the road in large numbers in the near future, a significant challenge has been to convince the public that self-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.

📕 Related Resource: Learn more about SOTIF >>>

Key Takeaways From the 2021 Automotive Software Development Survey Report

We surveyed over 600 automotive professionals to better understand how they are keeping pace with emerging automotive software trends. 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 2021 State of Automotive Software Development Survey Report. Here are some of the key findings:

Leveraging Game Development

With an increase in the amount of software being added to vehicles, some teams have started to leverage game development technology. The most common uses have been for product testing and prototyping.

These prototypes can verify the efficiency and effectiveness of the embedded software — all in a simulation. This enables you to make improvements and identify issues before any hardware prototypes are built.   

Software Security Has Become a Top Concern

As more software is added to a vehicle, the risk that hackers could infiltrate onboard/offboard systems has also increased. That was the top security concern for nearly half of the automotive software developers that we surveyed. What’s more, the number of cyberattacks on connected automobiles have increased by 99% from 2019 to 2020, according to an AMOnline report.

Therefore, the security risk should be considered at all stages of automotive software development and implementation.  ISO/IEC 21434, a forthcoming automotive standard, has been developed to provide a structured process to address cybersecurity risk in road vehicle electronic systems. It is focused on considering cybersecurity concerns throughout automotive software development.

📕 Related Resource: Learn more about ISO 21434 before it is released >>>

Standards Compliance Remains Essential

Over 80% of the automotive software developers that we surveyed are required to comply with ISO 26262, an extensive functional safety standard. The top concern of those surveyed was the difficulty in fulfilling every safety requirement and providing evidence of compliance to those requirements.  

Verifying and validating software was highlighted as the most time-consuming task by automotive software developers surveyed — with documenting work a close second.

As both of these activities are key for ensuring safety and proving compliance, this becomes a time-consuming challenge.

📕 Related Resource: Learn more about ISO 26262 and ASIL >>>>

Learn More About Emerging Automotive Software Trends in 2021

Software has become an integral part of automotive development as more digital components have been added. However, these enhancements create new challenges that can be difficult if you are unprepared or unfamiliar with these emerging trends.

Yet, by reviewing industry research — such as the 2021 State of Automotive Software Development Survey Report — you can keep pace. 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 electric and autonomous vehicles.