Visteon is simplifying dashboard electronics
PEER AT the instrument panel on your new car and you may find sleek digital gauges and multicoloured screens. But a glimpse behind the dashboard could reveal what US car supplier Visteon found: a mess.
As automotive cockpits become crammed with ever more digital features such as navigation and entertainment systems, the electronics holding it all together have become a rat’s nest of components made by different parts makers.
Now the race is on to clean up the clutter.
Visteon is among a slew of suppliers aiming to make dashboard innards simpler, cheaper and lighter as the industry accelerates toward a so-called virtual cockpit – an all-digital dashboard that will help usher in the era of self-driving cars.
What’s at stake is a piece of the $37 billion (R480.45bn) cockpit electronics market, estimated by research firm IHS Market to nearly double to $62bn by 2022. Accounting firm PwC estimates that electronics could account for up to 20 percent of a car’s value in the next two years, up from 13 percent in 2015.
Meanwhile, the number of suppliers for those components is likely to dwindle as carmakers look to work with fewer companies capable of doing more, according to Mark Boyadjis, principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit. “The complexity of engineering ten different systems from ten different suppliers is no longer something an automaker wants to do,” Boyadjis said.
He estimates manufacturers eventually will work with two to three cockpit suppliers for each model, down from six to 10 today.
One of Visteon’s solutions is a computer module dubbed “SmartCore.” This cockpit domain controller operates a vehicle’s instrument cluster, infotainment system and other features, all on the same tiny piece of silicon.
So far this year, the Detroit-based company has landed two big contracts for undisclosed sums.
One, announced in April, is with China’s second-largest automaker, Dongfeng Motor Corporation. The other is with Mercedes-Benz.
An unnamed European carmaker plans to use the system in 2018, according to Visteon.
Visteon is going all in on cockpit electronics, having shed its remaining automotive climate. – Reuters
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