What Lies Ahead for the Automotive Industry in 2024

Chris Clark, Ron DiGuiseppe, Stewart Williams

Jan 09, 2024 / 4 min read

The race to develop the most advanced, secure, and safe vehicles on the road has been on for quite some time, but we expect that race to gain speed in 2024. Global competition between automakers, consumer demand for advanced features, upcoming automotive industry regulations, and new entrants to the automotive silicon market are fueling this fierce battle.   

Despite this competition and intensified market pressure, there is still a need for extended collaboration at all stages in the automotive development process to manage the increasing complexity of vehicle systems-on-chip (SoCs), evolving cybersecurity threat landscape, and shortening development cycles.  

What is the future of semiconductor-enabled technology in the automotive sector? Read on for our top four automotive predictions that we see guiding the market in 2024.

automotive industry trends 2024

1. Market Pressure Yields Shorter Automotive Development Cycles

Automotive manufacturers are rushing to keep up with Chinese manufacturers who are setting the pace for development to levels previously unseen in the traditional market. Due to the robust automotive safety standards and resulting testing needs, the technology in a brand-new car is likely to be five to seven years old. Chinese manufacturers are closing that gap to be closer to three to five years. Both silicon and software testing validation need to happen as quickly as possible to accelerate development, often in parallel with one another. 

One way the industry is lessening the time to market for vehicles is by using electronic digital twins technology, which can be utilized for an entire vehicle, its software, electrical system, SoCs, etc., to detect performance issues, test new features, and optimize features throughout the entire design and manufacturing processes. Digital twins, virtual models or representations of a system under development, can also be used for “vehicle electrical/electronic (E/E)-system” validation, allowing for a shift-left approach in automotive design that is invaluable for shortening design and development cycles. That’s because it permits early hardware and software integration and frontload testing. Additionally, silicon lifecycle management technology, with data collected from in-vehicle sensors for analysis, can deliver insights that will support root-cause analysis, predictive maintenance, and aging and degradation management.

2. Centralized Zonal Architecture Will Begin to Come Online

While zonal architecture for automotive won’t be fully rolled out until the end of this decade, we expect to see the development of zonal architecture that will further integrate functions and associated application software into centralized SoCs and modules. This mixture of new applications and evolving system architecture has enabled a new level of sensors and SoCs with high performance, expanded functionality, new hosted applications, and amplified amounts of AI. Thus, this increasing level of complexity is forcing the industry to adopt leading-edge automotive semiconductor technologies at 7nm, 5nm, and even 3nm. Full realization of zonal architecture within the automotive industry will occur incrementally as certain OEMs, especially electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers like Tesla, invest more aggressively in new platforms and applications and therefore move SoCs to more advanced nodes. In 2024, we will also see more hybrid architectures being used to achieve a centralized system by 2030.

3. New Entrants to Automotive Silicon Design Call for Consulting Services

Much like tech behemoths Meta, Apple, and Amazon have brought chip development in-house, we are seeing a similar shift in the automotive industry. Both traditional carmakers and those that are relatively new to the scene such as Rivian, BYD Auto, and XPeng EV are getting into the chip design game, but they can’t do it alone. These auto manufacturers will need their design engineering teams to ramp up productivity quickly. With today’s market pressures and distributed design teams, anything that brings greater efficiency could be turned into a competitive advantage. 

A common platform of chip design tools simplifies the effort and fosters better outcomes, eliminating the need to spend time making the tools work together. Beyond tools, additional expertise and consulting will be necessary for these companies, especially given the unique knowledge and technology required to develop automotive-grade products. There are simply not enough chip design engineers with automotive-grade expertise at each of these new-entrant automotive companies to round out an entire department without the use of consultants.

4. UN Regulation No. 155 Will Increase Pressure on the Automotive Industry to Address Cybersecurity

Beginning July 2024, the UN 155 regulation on cybersecurity will require the entire automotive value chain from OEMs, suppliers, and sub-suppliers to implement a cybersecurity management system. While the industry can already reference and utilize the ISO/SAE 21434 standard, which provides the framework to develop a secure product in the automotive industry, it is a standard, not a legal requirement. UN 155R is a legally binding regulation that automakers must follow to participate in the EU. In other words, the ISO 21434 industry standard provides support to meet requirements found in WP.29 regulation. This new standard applies to software, systems, components, and IP, and will require further collaboration throughout the entire automotive supply chain. There are various ways to prepare now for UN 155, including implementing a Threat Analysis and Risk Assessment (TARA) program, utilizing chip design and IP solutions developed with security in mind, using static analysis solutions to detect vulnerabilities early on, and implementing well-known encryption standards, to name a few.

There’s no doubt that we will see some major changes in the automotive industry next year. Synopsys has a unique vantage point to these industry adjustments due to expertise that spans nearly the entire development ecosystem from cybersecurity, software, design, prototyping, IP, testing, and validation from various vendor standpoints. The industry will need to come together in order to deliver on upcoming regulations, new features that the consumer has come to expect, and faster times to market.

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