Vis­teon is sim­pli­fy­ing dash­board elec­tron­ics

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT | INTERNATIONAL - Alexan­dria Sage

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.

So­lu­tion

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

PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

A dig­i­tal dash­board dis­play sits be­hind the steer­ing wheel of an As­ton Martin V8 Van­tage lux­ury car, but a glimpse be­hind the dash­board may re­veal a mess.

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