In my last blog post, I highlighted Mentor Graphics’ IESF Automotive 2010 event which is now officially in the history books. While I didn’t get to sit-in on all of the presentations (I was working a demo stand, chatting with attendees, and had a couple of presentations myself), I learned a few interesting tidbits from several of our guest speakers.
John Antilla from Chrysler talked about the challenges of automotive electrical complexity. Something we all talk about, but it’s a bit different to actually see diagrams of what’s involved in tracking electrical system development and deployment. While electrifying automotive systems improves performance, reliability, and safety, doing so comes at the cost of more complexity in all phases of an automobile’s development cycle.
Christopher Davey from Ford related his company’s experience with vehicle software and electrical management processes. Among his many observations, he compared the amount of software (number of lines of code) used in, for example, the space shuttle and a high-end automobile. Seems the automobile wins with the most lines of code by far (some 10 million) and the highest number of ECUs.
Paul Hansen, publisher of the well-known Hansen Report, briefly analyzed his trends research in automotive electronics. He shared his insights from years of monitoring the industry. No surprise that Paul predicts automotive electrical content will continue to rise. You can read more from Paul at www.hansenreport.com.
Ian Wright, co-founder of Tesla Motors and founder of Wrightspeed, talked about the future of electric vehicles. Seems that cost and range are still the overwhelming challenges. His calculations show that, at current battery technology prices, the cost of gasoline would have to rise to at least US$10 per gallon to make an all electric family sedan economically viable. Probably not going to happen in the near future. Ian has also shown that replacing a moderate-to-high MPG family car with an electric vehicle would have limited fuel savings impact, and result in an impractical return on investment. Instead, he proposes focusing on replacing low MPG vehicles, particularly some commercial vehicles, with electric equivalents. The fuel savings would be significantly higher, and the time-to-payback much shorter. ‘Gotta admit that Ian’s arguments make sense. You can read more about his proposals at www.wrightspeed.com.
In addition to our main speakers, tool experts from Mentor Graphics presented on a broad range of automotive design topics including wire harness design, AUTOSAR, signal integrity, design optimization, design team collaboration, and system modeling, simulation, and analysis. Certainly a lot of information packed into a single day.
As we closed the curtain on IESF, of the attendees I talked to, all felt the event was worth their while, which is good to hear. Hosting an IESF event requires a significant investment of resources, both on Mentor Graphics’ and our customers’ part. Nice to know attendees feel they get real value from their investment. If you weren’t able to attend this year’s even in Detroit, regularly visit mentor.com to learn about upcoming IESF events. We typically host 2 or 3 events each year in different cities.