In-car communication protocols poised for growth

In-vehicle network architectures and associated in-car communication protocols are generating excitement in the automotive industry, according to research on the European automotive network architecture markets by Frost & Sullivan. New vehicle applications have created a strong need for sophisticated protocols that can manage the increasingly complex automotive electronics.

Point-to-point wiring is, to a large extent, being replaced by bus systems in in-vehicle networks. Since the adoption of CAN in the early 1990s, a multitude of communication protocols have been developed and implemented.

Of the four dominant network types in the market, high speed and safety networks are still in their infancy. Frost & Sullivan expects the high speed and safety networks market to rapidly gain momentum at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37%. By the end of the forecast period (2010), it's expected to reach penetration rates of 31.5%.

Among the low-speed smart sensor networks, penetration rates have reach 100% and are not likely to decline over the forecast period (2004-2010). Strongest growth is in the high-speed multimedia networks, which are forecast to grow at CAGR of just under 21% to reach penetration rates of 30% in 2010.

The market for general-purpose networks is currently comprised on only one protocol, CAN-C. The penetration rates of 100% are expected to stay the same through 2010, as a competitive protocol is unlikely to emerge during this time.

While CAN is the prevailing industry standard and has been adopted by almost all vehicle manufacturers, standardization efforts are underway for other protocols such as local interconnect network or media-oriented systems transport so that they can be implemented more easily.