Auto Suppliers Face Big Changes Thanks to High-Tech Dashboards

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【Summary】Suppliers will be changing their approach as high tech comes to more and more dashboards.

Original Timothy Healey    Aug 15, 2017 12:00 PM PT
Auto Suppliers Face Big Changes Thanks to High-Tech Dashboards

The automotive dashboard is changing, and suppliers will have to change along with it.

That's because the increasing amount of digital displays – everything from digital gauges to center-stack infotainment screens – is leading to a mess of wires underneath it all.

Different Systems Abound

Right now, many dashboards are a maze of wires and components built and provided by different suppliers. Visteon, an automotive supplier, is looking to change that.

Visteon is one of several automotive suppliers looking to make the insides of dashboards simpler and lighter, and thus cheaper, according to Reuters. Not only that, but this is a step towards all-digital dashboards. Not only do all-digital dashboards look cool, but they could help advance autonomous driving tech.

IHS Markit, an industry analysis firm, estimates that the in-car cabin electronics market is at $37 billion right now and projects an increase to $62 billion by 2022. Meanwhile, accounting firm PwC estimates that in-car electronics will make up 20 percent of a vehicle's value two years from now. That's up from 13 percent in 2015.

One of IHS Markit's analysts says that the number of suppliers in this space will actually decrease, however, as original-equipment manufacturers work with a smaller pool of companies that are each about to accomplish more individually.

"The complexity of engineering ten different systems from ten different suppliers is no longer something an automaker wants to do," IHS Markit automotive analyst Mark Boyadjis said.

Reduction in Supplier Pool

Boyadjis thinks OEMs will eventually have two or three suppliers for the cabin of each model they sell. Today, automakers use six to 10 suppliers for in-cabin electronics.

Visteon, for example, has come up with a component called SmartCore – a computer module/domain controller that controls the gauge cluster, infotainment screen, and other functions.

Visteon has secured large contracts with Chinese automaker Dongfeng Motor Corp. – the second-largest Chinese auto manufacturer – and Mercedes-Benz. Visteon says a third automaker – an unnamed company from Europe – is planning on using the system starting in 2018.

That's big news for a supplier that no longer has an automotive climate or interiors wing – it dropped both those parts of its business in 2016.

The supplier emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2009, a few years after spinning off from Ford.

"You have to be changing and adapting fast. If not, you're not going to keep up in this market," Tim Yerdon, Visteon's head of global marketing, told Reuters. "It's about reinventing yourself to stay ahead."


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