Continental’s new electrical architecture is all about communications. The high-powered network improves coordination between vehicle systems and enables V2X connectivity, including over-the-air software updates.
Such capabilities are key to the server-based approach that Conti says will be necessary to manage next-generation vehicles as more features—autonomous, connected and electrification—are added. Eventually, this will require consolidating dozens of electronic control units (ECUs) into a handful of ultra-powerful domain controllers (possibly as few as 2 or 3) responsible for specific groupings, such as powertrain, infotainment and body/chassis.
By the Numbers
Conti hails the architecture as a “milestone in the digital transformation” of a vehicle. One benefit is to separate software development from the corresponding hardware to enable speedier (smartphone-like) updates.
But getting the job done is a huge and complex undertaking. Conti’s new system, for example, manages:
- Software from 18 companies
- 68 ECUs
- 70,000 vehicle functions and tasks
- 20 million lines of code
Conti says the centralized computing power is provided by a high-performance system-on-chip over a fast-bus architecture such as an automotive Ethernet. Different operating systems (Adaptive Autosar, Android, Java VM) can run on the same hardware. Other benefits: predictive maintenance and enhanced cybersecurity.
Conti’s new system debuts this year in Volkswagen’s new ID.3 electric hatchback in Europe and will be used for subsequent ID models.
Conti and VW say the central computing architecture will provide significant cost savings and enable third-party connected vehicle services (e.g., range-optimized route planning and locating and scheduling time at charging stations).
VW plans to consolidate the number of electronics architectures used across its various brands from eight today to a single platform. The number of ECUs will be slashed from about 70 modules (with software from 200 vendors) to less than five.
The Mazda CX-5 first appeared on the scene in 2012, and for 2017, the vehicle has undergone some major transformations, to enhance what was already a notable small crossover.
Dan Nicholson is vice president of General Motors Global Propulsion Systems, the organization that had been “GM Powertrain” for 24 years.
The mid-size 2005 Pathfinder, Nissan's largest design and development program to date, involved three technical centers, and took 36 months and countless trans-Pacific trips to complete. Though it borrows major components from the full-size Titan pickup and Armada SUV, it's not just a downsized clone.