automotive trends 2023 report
March 29, 2023

Automotive Industry Trends 2023: What Software Developers Need to Know

Functional Safety
Static Analysis

The automotive industry has been undergoing significant changes as it works to adapt to growing market demands and challenges associated with electric, autonomous, and hybrid vehicles.

Here, we take a look at some notable trends that were highlighted in our report, 2023 State of Automotive Software Development.

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

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It used to be that all you had to do was look under the hood to have a working understanding of how a car worked. However, it’s no longer that simple. Modern vehicles 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.

An Increase in Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles made up 10% of all new cars sold in 2022, according to the Wall Street Journal. So, it may not come as a surprise that 45% of the automotive professionals we surveyed said that electric vehicles were extensively driving their design efforts, while 45% shared that it had somewhat of an impact — an increase of 7% over last year. 

While the focus may be shifting more toward electric vehicles, the leading concern among automotive professionals is still the safety of their vehicles. As there are currently no functional safety standards specifically for electric vehicles, the same standards that are essential for traditional vehicles are equally important — chief among them, ISO 26262.

With the increased number of electronic components, ISO 26262 is crucial for electronic vehicles as it applies to all of the electric and/or electronic systems in vehicles.

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Key Takeaways From the 2023 State of Automotive Software Development Report

We surveyed 400 automotive professionals from across the globe to better understand what challenges they were encountering and how they kept pace with shifting industry and customer demands. In the survey, we asked about what best practices and tools were being used to handle these major changes.

The full results of those responses are available in the 2023 State of Automotive Software Development Survey Report.


An Emphasis on Maximizing Resources and Talent

The global economy was a leading market condition that has most impacted automotive organizations this year, with related conditions of inflation, the shift to a remote/hybrid workforce, supply chain, and chip shortages also ranking as top concerns. 

While vehicle sales are expected to rebound this year after an automotive industry slowdown in 2022 — ABI Research forecasts a 5% growth in new consumer and commercial vehicle sales in 2023 — manufacturers and suppliers need to use their resources wisely to ramp up production levels and meet consumer demand. 

To ensure they are on a growth trajectory, 38% of our survey respondents said they will be focusing on maintaining industry competitiveness, and 26% will be maximizing existing resources. 

As part of the respondents' business strategies, 17% said they will be focusing on educating existing talent. Providing the training needed for existing team members, as well as hiring and retaining the right talent, was an overall trend in this year's report.

Automotive Software Security Remains as Important as Safety

From 2021 to 2022, the number of API cyberattacks on vehicles increased by 380 percent, accounting for 12% of total incidents, according to a recent report from the cybersecurity and data management platform, Upstream. With the escalation of automotive software security risks, the leading security concern for the automotive professionals we surveyed was the difficulties of enforcing secure coding practices. 

However, those concerns may be encouraging development teams to adopt more robust security practices. In fact, 73% of those we surveyed either already have or are in the process of implementing a shift-left strategy, which refers to their approach to performing tests earlier in the SDLC. By testing earlier, software security vulnerabilities, errors, and bugs can be more easily identified and remedied.

In addition, an overwhelming number of automotive professionals said that they will be required to comply with ISO/SAE 21434, an automotive standard that focuses on the cybersecurity risks in vehicle electronic systems. While the security standard is mostly a customer requirement rather than mandated by the market, it is nevertheless essential for automotive development because the current safety-critical standards are not sufficient in covering cybersecurity risks.

Standards Compliance Remains Essential

An essential part of the automotive software development process is ensuring that the software is compliant with key industry standards and guidelines. As previously mentioned, the automotive functional safety standard ISO 26262 is essential for all automotive software development, and 80 percent of those we surveyed are required to comply with it.

In addition, according to those that we surveyed, the leading challenge in proving compliance was the difficulties in fulfilling every safety requirement and providing the necessary evidence that all the compliance requirements had been met.

When coupled with the related challenge of verifying and validating software, which was identified as being the most time-consuming task by our respondents, enforcing the necessary standards can be a daunting task.

One of the most efficient methods to enforce and verify compliance with functional standards is to use a static analysis tool.

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As more hardware components are replaced with software, it is essential that automotive software is not only safe but secure as well. By reviewing industry research, you are able to not only keep pace with the challenges of this year but also for the years to come.

Download your free copy of the 2023 State of Automotive Software Development Report, which contains over 70 pages of analysis, infographics, and information on leading challenges, best practices, and emerging trends.

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