Can Carmakers Assail Tesla’s Lead in E/E Architecture?

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The latest research from S&P Global shows that Tesla has at
least a 5-year lead in-vehicle electronic and electrical (E/E)
architecture, one that is based on a central computer and zonal
architecture structure. You could ask, so what? It is one of the
reasons that Tesla can build vehicles like the Model 3 in 10 hours
compared to their peers, who need to clock 20 or more hours on the
same feat.

Specifically, Tesla’s advanced zonal design leads the race with
reduced wiring because zone controllers and center computers
replace distributed ECUs with embedded functionality, software, and
hardware with pure software functions. These functions can then be
controlled and accessed from a central “brain”. As a result, there
will be fewer unnecessary control units, and in the case of Model
3, the zonal architecture contributed to a saving of 50% in wiring,
simplifying manufacturing, and lowering vehicle weight, which in
turn adds to the BEV range.

The nearest competitors are EV sub-brands of China OEMs. These
vehicles emulate this design, which is a much simpler task for
these companies because of their lack of burdensome legacy
architecture. The brands are also dedicated to just a few
nameplates for specific markets, like premium BEV. The established
North American OEMs and German premium brands need to consider much
larger vehicle portfolios, different markets, and different engine
types. The same applies to Japanese and Korean brands, which shun
zonal designs but still focus on making software designs like

Battery EVs is the trigger point for most. What do you think is
the reason why Volvo, BMW, and Volkswagen use dedicated electric
platforms to launch zonal designs 2-3 years after the first Chinese
zone designs from BYD, Xpeng, and Dongfeng?

Is the mountain built by Tesla scalable only by the dynamic
Chinese OEMs? The other OEMs are developing similar designs at
different rates depending on strategy, software expertise, and
other factors, but will they catch up with Tesla’s very strong lead
in this market? Certainly, making EVs is not a trivial undertaking,
given the current scenario, will customer preferences regarding
quality, especially cost and safety, triumph in the end?

Join us in the EE Architecture Revolution discussion on
28 Feb, 17:00 SGT, CST | 18:00 JST, KST | 09:00 GMT

This article was published by S&P Global Mobility and not by S&P Global Ratings, which is a separately managed division of S&P Global.

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