May 4, 2023

Software Development Tips for EV Startups

Functional Safety

Most OEMs don't make a profit from the sale of electric vehicles (EVs) — but EV startups planning on getting to market fast don't have to incur the same losses. 

With soaring battery prices, massive component costs, and low-volume sales chipping away at profitability, an EV startup must look toward software development as a way of driving efficiencies in budget, schedule, and level of effort. Understanding the top EV software development challenges helps startup leaders find the path toward solving them. 

As we explain in this blog, recouping costs doesn't have to mean raising vehicle prices or cutting staff — rather, it's about finding options to work smarter within a highly complex and regulated software environment. 

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

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The Scope of Electric Vehicle Software Development

Every EV is a software platform on wheels, so it's no surprise that designing, writing, and validating code is the first place to look for efficiencies in development. Vehicle components can be broken down into different software domains to help you understand the implications on effort, budgets, and schedule.

These electric vehicle software domains include: 

  • Chassis (e.g., braking and suspension) — With long histories and multiple suppliers, EV startups must look at adapting existing technologies for new features, such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). 

  • Powertrain (e.g., motors, inverter) — Requires significant new software development to manage electrified components and autonomous systems.

  • Battery — Battery management and protection, as well as safe operation, will drive critical requirements for software teams. 

  • Autonomous driving systems — Self-driving vehicles require complex integrations into existing chassis and powertrain systems. 

  • Connectivity — Internet in the car, over-the-air (OTA) updates, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI), and more will place significant reliability and security challenges on software development. 

▶️ Related Webinar: Learn how to put quality first in automotive in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems

For EV startups, these domains lean heavily toward new, leading-edge software components with significant functional safety and security requirements. Unlike traditional OEMs, startups must build these capabilities from the ground up, while also managing the business realities of investor confidence, developer recruitment, and regulatory compliance. 

3 Challenges EV Startups Should Focus On

Aside from time-to-market and supply-chain issues, here are three of the biggest challenges influencing EV software development — and how development teams can tackle them. 

1. Protecting Consumers and the Business Through Standards Compliance 

Developers may think that compliance to automotive safety and security standards slows down both innovation and release milestones. The reality is that standards and guidelines offer a pre-defined framework for protecting the business against costly failures in the field. 

Three common automotive standards include: 

ISO 26262

The ISO 26262 standard mandates a functional safety process to reduce hazards to vehicle occupants and is based on a risk classification system known as Automotive Safety Integrity Levels (ASIL) and the verification of development artifacts that demonstrate compliance. 


Developed and maintained by manufacturers, component suppliers, and engineering consultancies, MISRA provides coding guidelines for C and C++ to help ensure code is safe, reliable, and portable. 

📕 Related Resource: A Guide to MISRA C Coding Guidelines


CERT coding standards are C, C++, and Java guidelines developed by a community of software development and software security professionals to help determine the possible consequences of violating that specific rule or recommendation. 

EV startups have a tough job when it comes to standards compliance: Planning, testing, and reporting must be built into development processes from the ground up. If delayed or ignored, the lack of compliance framework will threaten prototype and consumer deliveries as the release windows shrink and regulators demand evidence. 

2. Minimizing the Impact of Inflation

Inflationary pressures are disrupting established pricing models across the automotive supply chain and limiting the purchasing power of consumers. An EV startup can't afford to wait for favorable market conditions, but it can look for opportunities to create cost-efficient and sustainable practices within its software teams now. 

The good thing about startups is that developers don't have time to ask permission to test and adopt new tools to streamline their work. They're actively researching anything that helps them focus on what matters: delivering new features that are robust and compliant. Development leaders can accelerate this agility by understanding: 

  • All the applications and tools currently in development processes 
  • Opportunities for new tools to offload manual work and improve work outputs 
  • Ownership and responsibilities for every tool
  • Who accesses them and how often
  • Costs of each tool per user/team 
  • Redundancies in tools and processes 
  • Licensing terms and renewal dates 

3. Adopting Effective Automation Techniques 

While most technology startups tend to hire people that take the initiative to get things done (often by wearing multiple hats), electric vehicle software teams can't afford to leave risk mitigation to chance. The stakes are too high. This is where automating complex and cumbersome tasks through sophisticated static analysis tools — like Helix QAC and Klocwork — keeps risks down and helps developers focus on delivering value. 

Given rigorous requirements for standards and security compliance, here is where EV startups can take advantage of automation technologies like static analysis tools: 

  • Coding standards compliance — Identification of violations against the rules and guidelines stated in safety and security standards. 
  • Code coverage compliance — Fulfillment of ISO 26262 code coverage requirements, such as statement, branch, and MC/DC. 
  • Issue prioritization — Ranking issues based on risk to avoid wasting time or creating "issue fatigue" with developers. 

Minimize the Cost of Innovation Now for EV Startups with Static Analysis

It's time for EV startups to cut waste, intelligently. As inflation creates volatility in the supply chain and the regulatory barriers to market get higher, EV software development teams must optimize spending and foster resiliency in their tools and processes now. 

Perforce Static Analysis and SAST tools ease entry into effective electric vehicle software development with precise and accurate static code analyzers that ensure continuous compliance for code quality, reliability, safety, and security. From proof-of-concept to porting to new vehicle models, Helix QAC and Klocwork keep development velocity high and reduce market risks. 

📕 Related Resource: For a deeper dive into how EV startups can compete in today's market, download our white paper, "Accelerating Market Entry: How EV Start-Ups Reduce Risks and Costs in Software Development." 

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