Automotive group highlights “once in a generation” opportunity for UK industry

Boom times for the UK car industry with production set to grow by almost 10 per cent this year but new ways of working are going to be key if the industry is to maintain the remarkable performance of the last few years. That was the view expressed by a number of leading figures from the UK automotive industry who came together at the Automotive Electronic Systems Innovation Network’s (AESIN) annual conference. The AESIN is a specialist industry group dedicated to accelerating electronic systems innovation in the automotive environment.

At a time when the electronic systems content within a car is set to grow at pace and as manufacturers add ever more features and functionality to their vehicles along with the adoption of intelligent systems within the vehicle and the surrounding environment, coupled with changes in regulation, legislation and consumer demands manufacturers, and their suppliers, are seeing a “once in a generation opportunity” for the British automotive industry.

Speaking at the conference, held at the University of Warwick, Visteon Electronics Associate Director Alan Banks gave a keynote talk which outlined the major technology trends and changing end-customer expectations brought about by the smart-phone generation. “Overcoming the technology challenges is not enough” asserted Mr. Banks and “new ways of working are going to be key to addressing a new industry dynamic”. He further invited the automotive community to come together to:

  • Accelerate innovation through roadmap alignment & requirement sharing throughout the supply chain
  • Grow networking with OEM”s and the UK supply base
  • Identify joint research & Government funding opportunities
  • Increase skill sharing & knowledge transfer

Britain is rapidly becoming the destination of choice for automotive OEMs offering a flexible workforce and an export focused capability.

Jaguar Land Rover’s Michael Mychajluk Purchasing Risk Manager said “the car of tomorrow will make increasing use of sophisticated, highly integrated electronic systems for safety, comfort and performance. There are many exciting areas of development enabled by electronic systems but this introduces a significant complexity issue which can only be addressed by a supply chain that works more effectively together. This presents us all with a once in a generation opportunity to streamline the process and accelerate innovation from R&D to on-the-road production vehicles”.

Keith Kidd, Director of Renesas European Design Centre, added that “major challenges facing the industry are coming from outside the traditional automotive areas: consumer innovations at automotive quality, security, ADAS and drive train all present new opportunity and significant challenges”.

For conference-goers, security and functional safety featured high on the list of challenges for industry to address and many expressed concerns relating to the new demands of the market and the industry’s ability to meet customer’s expectation with a traditional supplier and purchasing model.

Andrew Birnie, Systems Engineering Manager, Freescale Semiconductor, commented “the push towards the autonomous car presents new challenges for all parts of the automotive supply chain, from the OEM to the Tier 1 to the semiconductor vendor and IP provider. Only by forming new collaborations with experts from within and without the automotive electronics systems industry will we solve the security, user interface & system availability challenges before us.”

The AESIN initiative has gained significant momentum recently along with the growing interest and investment from government into the automotive sector. UK organisations have significant opportunity for growth and AESIN invites all parties involved within the UK automotive electronic systems lifecycle to make contact and participate in the many and varied activities within its collaborative programme.


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