Electronics have transformed the car into a high-tech powerhouse, but repairing electronics has become nearly half the warranty costs of some automakers.
The auto industry could reduce such warranty costs by adopting common electrical architectures with reprogrammable software so that vehicle computers are the only electronics that change from year to year, panelists at an SAE World Congress session agreed.
But automakers likely won't use common electrical architectures for fear that doing so would take away some of the uniqueness from each brand, said Doug Patton, senior vice president for Denso International America.
The industry also struggles to put the right mix of electronics in vehicles.
"We don't believe in the concept of the Internet on wheels," said panel moderator Bernard Robertson, senior vice president for engineering technologies for Chrysler. "We never want to get away from the visceral feeling of driving. That's where the satisfaction comes from, not the vehicle having its own website address."
And automakers must improve the quality of electrical components, panelists agreed.
"We cannot risk losing the trust of the consumer," said Jacqui Dedo, general manager of marketing for Motorola. "Components have to pass the rigors of the industry."