Sign in to search Gartner Research
Analysts Say Microcontrollers are Key Enablers for Green Vehicles
Rising fuel prices and environmental concerns are accelerating electronic innovations in automotives, with worldwide automotive microcontroller units (MCUs) expected to reach $6.3 billion in 2012 — 50 percent of which will be responsible for “green” optimizations, according to Gartner, Inc. In 2008, worldwide automotive MCUs are on pace to total $5.3 billion.
Many of the technologies used in “green” vehicles, such as hybrids, are managed through MCUs. The increase in sales for energy-efficient vehicles will fuel the MCU market.
“MCUs play an instrumental role in accelerating electronic innovations in automotives by making the vehicle lighter and more efficient, and drivers more informed,” said Amy Leong, research director for Gartner. “Increasing complexity in automotive electronics is amplifying the need for higher-performance 32-bit MCUs with more embedded memory.”
The improved fuel economy of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) is attributable to the addition of an electric engine to the combustion gas engine, which can take over from the gas engine when the car is stopped at lights or in traffic, or with newer models, can power the car at lower speeds. The smooth and uninterrupted blending of power between the two engines requires great computer control and highly complex software, which is provided by MCU technology with enhanced on-chip memory. The “brain” of the hybrid engine control unit (ECU) is the 32-bit MCU, which provides high-speed operation up to 200 MHz and on-chip memory of more than 4MBs. It constantly monitors the driving conditions and manages the power flow between the generator, battery and motor.
As HEV production is only a small part of new car production, the automotive industry is moving to implement new technological innovations in combustion engine cars to improve energy efficiency. “Using more electronics in vehicles plays a critical role and MCUs inside these electronics provide higher-precision control and on-demand capability, leading to considerable improvement in fuel-efficiency and a reduction in emissions,” Ms. Leong said.
MCU-enabled applications such as electronic power steering and multiplexing/networking reduce overall vehicle weight and improve gas mileage by eliminating mechanical systems and dedicated wiring. Many consumers are already realizing the benefits of GPS and onboard computers to help route around traffic congestion and maximize fuel economy by monitoring speed and driving habits.
“With increasingly stringent emission regulations and higher gasoline prices, the automotive industry is making strides toward cleaner emissions and better fuel economy,” said Ms. Leong. “In the next decade, we will see an accelerated adoption of fuel-efficient technologies in all cars worldwide. Additionally, we expect the revolutionary zero-emission and alternative fuel solutions to be commercialized after 2015. All of these innovations will rely heavily on electronic control systems, and therefore MCUs.”
Additional analysis is available in the Gartner report "Dataquest Insight: Microcontrollers Are Key Enablers for Green Vehicles.” The report is available on Gartner's Web site at http://www.gartner.com/DisplayDocument?ref=g_search&id=737912&subref=simplesearch.
Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world's leading information technology research and advisory company. Gartner delivers the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is the valuable partner in over 13,000 distinct organizations. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A., and has 5,500 associates, including 1,400 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 85 countries. For more information, visit www.gartner.com.
Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.