April 12, 2024

Automotive Industry Trends 2024: 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 automotive trends 2024 that were highlighted in our report, 2024 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.

Electric Vehicles Are Becoming More Mainstream

While demand for electric vehicles is slowing somewhat, global electric vehicle sales still increased by 31% in 2023, according to Reuters. So, it may not come as a surprise that 51% of the automotive software professionals we surveyed said that they are now extensively working on electric vehicles (an increase of 6% since 2023), as opposed to last year when the majority of respondents were only working on some electric components. 

As the market transitions more toward electric vehicles, ensuring the security and safety of EV software is top of mind for automotive developers. Complying with regulations is critical for developers. 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.

A key component of ISO 26262 is the Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL), which is used to measure component risk. There are four levels of ASIL, going from ASIL A as the minimum level of risk to ASIL D as the maximum level of risk. In this year's survey, 40% of respondents said that they were required to achieve ASIL D, meaning they are working on higher-risk automotive systems/components. 

In keeping with this year's overall trend of security rising as a leading challenge, avoiding cyberattacks (26%) was the second-most important concern for those developing EVs, an increase of 6% over last year. This number is expected to rise in the near future, if electric vehicles continue to ramp up. With EVs becoming more established across the automotive industry, more connectivity in these embedded systems could lead to a higher risk of vulnerabilities and potential attack surfaces. 

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Key Takeaways From the 2024 State of Automotive Software Development Report

We surveyed nearly 600 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 2024 State of Automotive Software Development Survey Report.

An Emphasis on Efficiently Accelerating Development

The global economy was a leading market condition that has most impacted automotive organizations this year. Related conditions of supply chain challenges and a 6% increase in 2024 of those shifting to a remote/hybrid workforce and/or outsourcing globally were also factors. 

Maintaining industry competitiveness and maximizing existing resources continue to be important strategies for automotive developers this year, especially with productivity concerns on the rise: 54% also said their development team practices hybrid working, along with a 4% increase in team productivity concerns, and a leading challenge of cross-team collaboration in managing hardware/software design and code assets (29%). 

To improve efficiency across teams and save time during development, most automotive developer respondents understand the importance of shifting to the left of the SDLC, and are using coding standards and guidelines such as MISRA® — which saw a 20% increase over last year! In addition, tools such as static code analyzers, version control or data management, and project management tools are used heavily among automotive software developers. 

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Embedded Security Outpaces Safety for Automotive Software in 2024

As safety has become more established across the automotive industry, concerns are shifting noticeably toward code quality and security over safety this year. 

For those concerned with the quality of their software, our findings indicate that while internal code review processes are becoming more streamlined, having time to fully test is still a challenge for development teams. 

Embedded security is also on the rise as a leading challenge. In 2023, 50% of all automotive cyber incidents had a high or massive impact, increasing by x2.5 compared to 2022 according to a recent report from the cybersecurity and data management platform, Upstream. In addition, the Upstream report says that electric vehicle charging stations are a new battleground for attacks. With the escalation of automotive software security risks, the leading security concern for automotive professionals we surveyed was difficulty fulfilling security requirements, such as IEC 62443 and ISO 27001. 

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 77% 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 2024 State of Automotive Software Development Report, which contains over 60 pages of analysis, infographics, and information on leading challenges, best practices, and emerging trends.

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