John Day

News and commentary on automotive EE trends and topics

21 May, 2015

The research firm IHS reports that electrification is driving growth in the powertrain semiconductor market – 8.3% growth in 2014 and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 6% from $7.2 billion in 2014 to $9.5 billion in 2019.

IHS attributes the growth to increasing volumes of new vehicles and the need for fuel efficient vehicle technologies.
One example, for internal combustion engines, is a trend away from traditional multi-port fuel injection systems toward gasoline direct injection systems that are more efficient and require higher semiconductor content. Other factors are start-stop systems, forecast to grow at a 21% CAGR, and plug-in hybrid vehicles, expected to grow at 37% per-year for the next five years.

ihs 5-7-15

“Propulsion systems for electric and hybrid vehicles demand, on average, 10 times more semiconductor content than a conventional engine, says IHS automotive semiconductors analyst Ahad Buksh. “Without electrification, the powertrain semiconductor market would have only grown 3.1 percent annually for the next five years, whereas electrification is now accelerating the market at six percent growth rate annually.”

Powertrain components include the motor inverter, DC/DC converter, battery management system and plug-in charger, all of which require power management by analog integrated circuits (ICs) and discrete components. IHS says these applications saw growth of 24% in 2014 and they are expected to grow by 22% this year more than any automotive semiconductor application.

Semiconductor content in electric and hybrid vehicles are expected to generate more than $1 billion in total revenue growth from 2014 to 2019, by which time IHS forecasts that $1.6 billion will be generated in this segment.

Emissions legislation efforts in regions around the world are the main drivers for semiconductor sales in powertrain applications. The market for semiconductors in internal combustion engines was $4.3 billion in 2014, growing to $5.4 billion in 2019, according to IHS.

The engine control unit (ECU) consumes most of the semiconductor content in applications related to emissions reduction, in addition to which there is a growing trend toward electrification of various components – including fans, water pumps and oil pumps that will further contribute to powertrain semiconductor revenues in the future.

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8 May, 2015

Remember Wrightspeed ( When we last tuned in, it had developed a plug-in electric powertrain that can be retrofitted on garbage trucks to allow them to surpass The California Air Resources Board’s (ARB’s) emissions standards by 1,000 percent, plus save fleet owners more than $35,000 in fuel costs and $10,000 in maintenance costs per-truck, per-year.

This week the company announced a new product, an electric vehicle (EV) range extender called Fulcrum, which it described as representing “a breakthrough that challenges today’s piston engines and leaves existing turbine generators wanting.”

Fundamental Disruption
“The automotive industry is in the midst of a fundamental disruption, with electric vehicles merely symbolizing the beginning of the movement,” says company founder, CEO and namesake Ian Wright. “The Fulcrum, together with our range-extended EV architecture, is perfectly suited for achieving maximum efficiency in extremely high-power stop-and-go applications, such as garbage trucks.

“For many of the same reasons that aviation changed from piston engines to turbines decades ago, we believe turbines will begin to replace piston engines in range-extended electric vehicle applications.”

In Wrightspeed’s range-extended architecture, unlike in parallel hybrid architectures, the Fulcrum will not provide direct propulsion to the drive wheels, but be used to recharge the battery system. This means that the Fulcrum is only used when it is needed, and can run at the cleanest and most efficient operating point.

post Fulcrum medium resAt 250 lbs., the Fulcrum is approximately one-tenth the weight of its piston generator counterparts and it is designed to have a 10,000 hour lifetime. While piston generators rely on catalytic converters to reduce their emissions by 10x to meet ARB standards, the Fulcrum turbine generator is clean enough to meet emissions standards without adding to weight or complexity.

Wright says a two-stage compression process and a unique recuperation design make the Fulcrum 30% more efficient than existing turbine generators, while tripling usable power. Its multi-fuel capabilities allow it to burn diesel, CNG, LNG, landfill gases, biodiesel, kerosene, propane, heating oil, and others.

Besides that, according to Wright, the Fulcrum will make for a smooth, comfortable ride for drivers and a quiet, clean experience for neighborhoods because of its ultra-low vibration.

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29 April, 2015

A new report from IHS Automotive, Apps in the Car 2015, sheds some light on consumer preferences.

“Among new car intenders, nearly 90 percent of those surveyed currently own a smartphone,” said Colin Bird, IHS Automotive senior analyst, automotive software, apps and services. “Not surprisingly, these devices have wide implications for consumer behavior while driving and influence consumer expectations on how vehicles and apps should integrate with them.”

In the coming years, IHS expects significant growth from vehicle manufacturers integrating apps into their vehicles for consumer connectivity and also anticipates increased partnerships among OEMs and apps integrators.

Forecasts for the three primary systems for 2015 and beyond are:

Android Auto
• 2015 643K
• 2020 31 million
Apple CarPlay
• 2015 861K
• 2020 37 million
• 2015 1.1 million
• 2020 17 million

Nearly 45 percent of respondents (more than 4,000 vehicle owners planning to purchase a new vehicle within 36 months) said they would use in-vehicle apps if they helped enhance the driving experience, with 35 percent reporting they’d be most willing to use them if they were similar to those on their smartphone. Nearly 75 percent of respondents across all four regions surveyed (the U.S., China, Germany and the U.K.) said they would be willing to pay for updates to an app.

Top Five Categories

The top five categories that consumers identified as a favorite for use in their vehicles are navigation (53 percent), weather (40 percent), music (38 percent), news (33 percent) and social networking (29 percent).

According to the survey, there is less interest in apps for points of interest/local, books, health and fitness, business/productivity, education and podcasts. Use rates among respondents for those were less than 15 percent.

The chart below lists respondents’ preferences for infotainment:


Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed indicated a strong desire for continued listening of music via AM/FM radio and CD options in their vehicle, but a similar number prefer listening to music stored on their mobile devices, and Internet/streaming radio, satellite radio options and music stored on an in-vehicle hard drive. Streaming music from a mobile device is a big winner in China.

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25 April, 2015

2 Dow Corning EA-7100 Ashesive Photo

It’s so easy to make hasty judgments, like my thinking that Dow Corning’s new materials aren’t really all that relevant to automotive electronics. Of course they are!

During my time at the SAE World Congress, Dow Corning representatives patiently explained why and how materials are relevant, and why Dow Corning engineers are excited about two new breakthrough products worthy of the name.

EA-7100 Silicone Adhesive

Dow Corning’s EA-7100 Adhesive is a silicone chemistry that greatly expands design options for automotive electronics by enabling strong bonds to a wide variety of substrates. It’s a one-part, heat-cure adhesive that cures rapidly and at lower temperatures from the inside out, so it accelerates processing, lowers energy requirements, and reduces material costs.

The EA-7100 Adhesive forms strong bonds to metals, ceramics, glass and laminates, as well as to plastics like polyethylene, polycarbonate and acetal, that have presented challenges for conventional silicone. Depending on the application, the new material can often bond to those substrates without requiring pre-treatment or extensive cleaning.

EA-7100 allows up to 50 percent faster cure time versus conventional heat-cure platinum catalyzed silicone adhesive systems, and it can potentially achieve higher performance. In a typical lid seal design, a standard one-part addition-cure adhesive generally takes 60 minutes to cure at 125°C, while EA-7100 Adhesive can achieve full cure in 15 minutes at 100°C.

So EA-7100 allows the use of smaller, lower temperature ovens that consume less energy and help further lower the total cost of ownership.

Brice Le Gouic, Dow Corning’s global marketing manager for Transportation Electronics, says the new adhesive “offers significantly broader latitudes when designing next-generation control units, sensors, lighting and display modules (for) today’s increasingly demanding automotive under-hood applications.”

Flourosilicone Rubber (FSR) Technology – More Heat Resistant

Dow Corning also said its Silastic® Fluorosilicone Rubber (FSR) technology is now more heat resistant, and thus able to meet the demands of custom automotive applications that require long-lasting, reliable performance at temperatures exceeding 220°C.

“With automotive design trending toward smaller engine compartments, increased exhaust gas recirculation and decreased air flow, the high-end temperatures in under-hood environments are climbing and, more importantly, driving the performance requirements for FSRs to extremes not previously required,” said Craig Gross, Dow Corning senior application engineer for Fluorosilicone Elastomers.

4 Dow Corning FSR PhotoFSRs improve the temperature performance of silicone polymers. FSRs can perform reliably at temperatures reaching 200°C, and so they are used in turbo charger hoses, fuel systems and transmission seals.

Dow Corning’s new FSRs offer increased long-term temperature resistance for extended periods of time, and so they offer greater flexibility for next-generation automotive designs.

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21 April, 2015

lexus 2015-lexus-es-350-interiorIt’s really not that huge an imposition to have to adjust the driver’s seat whenever it’s time to switch different sized drivers, but it’s nice not to have to, and in the 2015 Lexus ES 350, with 10-way power seats, the seat slides forward or back automatically so it’s easier in and easier out.

And it’s not just the seat that adjusts, but also the steering wheel and side mirrors. A thoughtful design. Plus, the side mirrors are heated.

Getting into the car and starting it by pushing a button (I know it’s common now but I’m still impressed) was easy. Getting the phone to work with the car – or the phone’s applications to work with the car’s versions of those same applications – took more effort. Presumably a dealer would set it all up before a customer drove off the lot, but that was not my experience, nor did it occur to me to look for and read directions. Too easy. Eventually I was able to figure it out.

2013_Lexus_ES_350_13_It occurred to me while testing the ES 350 that we are still relatively early in the evolution of infotainment. It also occurred to me that the sound system in the ES 350 is more than adequate, and that AM/FM radio, SiriusXM, MP3 player connectivity, Bluetooth, and a USB socket make a wide variety of music and talk readily available. Pandora, iHeart Radio and similar apps are nice to have but hardly mandatory.

Infotainment will get better, and so will navigation. The Lexus ES 350 navigation system offers alternatives (shortest fastest etc.) for reaching a destination but it could be a tad more precise. I asked the system to direct me to a destination I knew, and it came close – within a few hundred yards – but neglected to tell me I needed to make one more sharp right-hand turn.

A very attractive option, part of the navigation system, is an 8-inch VGA screen and back-up camera. I’m looking forward to the day when every car has a back-up camera, but I’m not sure the day will ever come when I depend entirely on it – too many years spent turning this way and that to look.

Also optional, and new to me, is an intuitive parking assist feature with sensors that watch out that you don’t bump into anything while parking. A blind spot monitor and cross traffic alert reduces the possibility of bumping into anything that’s moving, or vice versa.

Standard features (at least complimentary for the first year) include Enform Safety Connect, which includes automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, an emergency assist button, and enhanced roadside assistance. And a moonroof, which to my mind is always a nice touch.

By turning a knob an ES 350 driver can select an ECO drive mode to increase fuel efficiency, a Sport mode for faster gear changes and acceleration response, or a Normal mode for balancing fuel efficiency and engine performance.
The ES 350 MSRP is $37,550. Optional features and a $925 destination charge add $6,745 for a total price of $44,295.

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15 April, 2015

chevrolet 4-14-15 1427861837194

Chevrolet said it has “completely restyled” its 2016 Malibu to offer more connectivity and advanced safety features, and more efficiency. And more job security for talented automotive electronics engineers.

Available active safety features include:

• A Front Pedestrian Alert that combines a forward-looking camera and automatic last-second braking to help avoid or reduce the harm caused by crashes with pedestrians.
• New Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning
• Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert
• New Forward Collision Alert with Following Distance Indicator
• Rear Cross Traffic Alert
• Front and Rear Park Assist
• Intellibeam, which automatically switches the headlamps to high beam for better road illumination and improved visibility
• Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Automatic Braking, and
• Automatic Parking Assist.

OnStar 4G LTE in-vehicle connectivity is also available, as is wireless phone charging, and a Teen Driver feature that lets parents view their kids’ driving behavior. It mutes the audio or any device paired with the car if front seat occupants neglect to fasten their safety belts. Audible and visual warnings come up when the car exceeds predetermined speeds.

Chevrolet MyLink with a seven-inch-diagonal color capacitive touch screen is standard on LS, LT and Hybrid models. MyLink with an eight-inch screen is standard on the Premier model and available on LT and Hybrid models. MyLink with navigation is available with the eight-inch system. It offers three-dimensional map views for major U.S. cities and attractions.

One option for Malibu buyers is a hybrid powertrain that leverages technology from the Chevrolet Volt. The standard 1.5 liter turbo powertrain is expected to offer 37 mpg highway. The hybrid is projecting 45 mpg highway – and 48 mpg city. The hybrid has exhaust gas heat recovery (EGHR), which uses exhaust heat to warm the engine and cabin.

An 80-cell, 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides electric power to the hybrid system. It can power the hybrid up to 55 miles per hour. The gas-powered engine comes on automatically at higher speeds. The hybrid also shares the 2016 Volt’s blended regenerative braking system, which provides maximum kinetic energy recovery during braking to be stored into the battery system to help maintain charge, and drive unit power electronics.

There’s much more, of course, but the highlights indicate how radically and how quickly automotive technology is evolving.

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6 April, 2015

nissan 4-6-15 Take_a_Break

Nissan’s 2015 Murano Crossover and its 2016 Maxima include an available Driver Attention Alert (DAA) that can sound an audible chime and display an amber coffee cup symbol in the center of the instrument panel both warning a drowsy or inattentive driver to “take a break.”

Do you have a drowsy driver alert system and has there been a time that it helped you?

Nissan quoted a November 2014 study by the AAA* (formerly the American Automobile Association) that said 37 percent of drivers report having fallen asleep while driving at some point in their lives, with 11 percent having done so in the past year. According to the survey, drowsy drivers are involved in approximately 300,000 crashes each year, 6,400 of them fatal.

Nissan said drivers can turn off the Driver Attention Alert system if they so desire. I hope they don’t.

Drowsy driver systems have been available for some time now, especially in luxury vehicles – BMW’s Active Protection safety package and Mercedes-Benz Attention Assist to name a couple. Nissan joins Audi, Ford, Mazda, Subaru, Volkswagen, Volvo, and, undoubtedly, other automakers in offering a drowsy driver alert system.

Tier one suppliers have been touting drowsy driver technology for the past several years, for commercial as well as for passenger vehicles. The systems are often integrated with comprehensive safety systems, but considering the scope of the danger – how easy it can be to drift off – should drowsy driver systems attract more attention? Should they be included in a new car buyer’s “gotta have” checklist?

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30 March, 2015

mentor 3-30-15 SAE ImageSince, as a session organizer, I know a bit more than the average about the papers that engineers present to their peers during the SAE World Congress, I was quite impressed by the number – 13 – that will be presented by folks representing Mentor.

And on top of that, Mentor plans demonstrations on 17 topics at its booth (#607).

Mentor engineers will present two papers on Tuesday (April 21), five on Wednesday, and six on Thursday.

On Tuesday:
11am: Systems Engineering in an Automotive E/E Design World
3pm: Improving Complex System Design Reliability and Robustness

On Wednesday:
9am: Enhancing Automotive Wire Harness Manufacturing Quality through Digital Continuity
10:30am: New Technology to Speed Vehicle Electrical System Fault Rectification
11:30am: Every Automotive Engineer is a Quality Engineer
11:30am: Mixed Voltages & Aluminum Conductors: Assessing New Electrical Technologies
3:30pm: Functional Verification & Quantitative Simulation Using the Simplest of Models

And on Thursday:
9am: Using Active Noise Control to Improve Driving Experience
9am: Jump-Starting ECU Development with AUTOSAR 4.x Platform
9:30am: Challenges in Automotive Connectivity: Devices, Technologies, and the Connected Car
10am: AUTOSAR Vehicle Design Automation
1:30pm: Advanced electrical design tools helping to answer tomorrow’s demand for fully electric vehicles
2pm: Bridging Automotive Design Domains with the Latest in Functional Design Technology

Meanwhile, back at Booth #607, Mentor is planning demonstrations in three categories – Connectivity and Networking, In-Car Experience, and Subsystems and Technology:

Connectivity and Networking
Electrical Systems Design
Network Design and Integration
Ethernet and AUTOSAR
Wire Harness Engineering
– Planning, costing and optimization of harness manufacturing
– Intelligent Harness costing
Empowering maintenance: Capital Smartclient on iPad

In-Car Experience
IVI/Cluster ECU Convergence
Active Noise Cancellation
IVI Apps and Connectivity
FastBoot and Instant On
CogniVue Image Recognition
Digital Smart Mirror

Subsystems and Technology
Flow and Thermal Analysis
LED Lighting
PCB Design
Multi-Discipline Simulation
System Design Management

Here are a couple of links to the details:

I’ll see you there.

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25 March, 2015

delphi engineers-standing-on-rocks-behind-delphi-autonomous-vehicle
This week a Delphi Automotive team embarked on what they said is the longest automated drive ever attempted in North America.

They launched near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and will travel some 3,500 miles to demonstrate Delphi active safety technologies.

Delphi previously demoed its self-driving car in California, and in Las Vegas during the Consumer Electronics Show. Chief technology officer Jeff Owens says those tests were “a great success,” so “Now it’s time to put our vehicle to the ultimate test by broadening the range of driving conditions. This drive will help us collect invaluable data in our quest to deliver the best automotive grade technologies on the market.”

delphi inside_automated_driving-at_light
During the cross country drive, the car will be challenged by changing weather and terrain not to mention potential road hazards – conditions and events that could not be tested in a lab; at least not easily.

Technologies and features in the car include:
• Radar, vision and Advanced Drive Assistance Systems (ADAS)
• Multi-domain controller: microprocessor able to drive multiple features and functions seamlessly
• V2V/V2X: Wireless vehicle communication technology extends the range of existing ADAS functionality
• Intelligent software that enables the vehicle to make complex, human-like decisions for real-world automated driving
• Traffic Jam Assist
• Automated Highway Pilot with Lane Change (on-ramp to off-ramp highway pilot)
• Automated Urban Pilot
• Automated Parking and Valet

Delphi said its active safety technologies make it possible for the vehicle to make complex decisions instantaneously, like stopping and then proceeding at a four-way stop, timing a highway merge, or calculating the safest maneuver around a bicyclist on a city street. Many of those driving scenarios have been a limitation for much of the technology on the market today. Owens said Delphi is “one of only a handful of companies” able to provide automakers with complete automated driving solutions.

He added that many of the active safety technologies needed to achieve the long-term vision of automated driving are being deployed today.

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19 March, 2015

If you haven’t signed up for IESF Detroit 2015 already, visit

Mentor Graphics’ one-day conference at Ford Motor Company’s Conference & Event Center (1151 Village Road in Dearborn) promises to attract one thousand or more automotive engineers.

Registration begins at 8am and the day concludes with a reception from 4:30 to 6:00.

paul hansen

Paul Hansen

Select one or more of these Technical Focus Areas:
• Electrical Systems Architecture & Design
• IVI/ADAS/Embedded Software/GENIVI
• Electrical Systems Engineering & Service
• EV/Hybrid EE Design
• Network Design, Integration & AUTOSAR
• Model Based Design
• Electronic Thermal Design & Measurement
• PCB Systems Design

roger lanctot

Roger Lanctot

See and hear presentations from speakers including:
• John Blyler, Founder and CEO, JB Systems Media and Technology
• Dr. Sunil Chhaya, Senior Technical Leader, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
• Steve Crumb, Executive Director, GENIVI Alliance
• Paul Hansen, Editor, The Hansen Report
• Roger C. Lanctot, Director – Global Automotive Practice, Strategy Analytics
• Paul Mascarenas, President of FISITA

Explore key topics at these presentations and panel sessions:
• Automation Tools Free Engineers to Innovate
• The Rise of Smart Machines – Fact or Fiction?
• Enabling Choice for Future Automotive Software Deployments
• Convergence of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), In-Vehicle Infotainment, and Driver Information Systems
• Improving Communications Between OEMs and Suppliers
• Calculating the Cost of Complexity – Do the Math
• Ethernet Backbone – Paving the Way towards Guaranteed Timing Behavior
• Optimizing Form and Function of EV/ Hybrid Harnesses
• IVI/ADAS/Embedded Software/GENIVI
• Managing Design and Manufacturing Challenges In Automotive Electronics
• Decision Making in an EE World
• Manage Complex Design Changes Across the Flow with Advanced Change Automation
• AUTOSAR: Vehicle Network Timing Analysis
• Moving Beyond Complex Modeling Languages: A More Intuitive Approach to Automotive System Modeling
• Make System Definition, Integration and Hierachy an Integral Part of Your Flow
• When Data Exchange Becomes Business Exchange
• Using Active Noise Control to Improve Driving Experience and Safety
• Analyzing Aging and Thermal Effects on Automotive Systems
• Network Design, Integration and AUTOSAR
• Integration of EE in PLM Infrastructure
• Improve Quality and Manufacturing Flexibility with Workbooks
• Managing Multi-Screen Video and Embedded Graphics in an Automotive Environment
• Reliable Simulation for Advanced Motor Drive Systems using an FEA-based, High-Fidelity Motor Modeling Solution – JMAG-RT
• Augmenting Current Tools and Processes to Increase the Productivity of an Engineering Team

IESF provides an excellent opportunity to learn, and network. I hope to see you there.

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