One World, One Industry: The Future of Electronics in the Automotive Industry

Automotive electronics is not a new topic. While there is a trend for both performance and luxury electronics, many of the recent conversations tend to focus on self-driving/autonomous vehicles. While the technology is exciting, it is just the tip of the iceberg. Did you know that your car is most likely the most technologically advanced device you own? It seems weird to refer to a car as a device, but modern automobiles have more chips and circuit boards than your average home Internet appliance.

In fact, high-tech systems in cars has been around since the 1980s. And we aren’t just talking about for GPS, computerized screens, or entertainment. Electronically controlled ignition and fuel injection systems allow automotive designers to meet standard requirements for fuel economy, while lowering emissions. With these systems, cars can still maintain high levels of performance and convenience for drivers. Today’s automobiles are comprised of many processors.

Printed circuit boards play a vital role in the performance and reliability of everything from engine, fuel injection, ignition systems, and throttle control. And that’s just a start. Most of today’s cars have between 30 and 80 separate electronic controllers.

Furthering the importance of proper standards for manufacturing, Volvo recently announced that all their manufactured vehicle models will be electric or hybrid by 2019. This decision marks Volvo as the first traditional automaker to work toward phasing out cars powered by only internal combustion engines. This means more electronics, which means more effort needs to be placed on ensuring these vehicles can handle the rigorous thermal cycles present in a vehicles day to-day usage.

In conjunction with that, France has announced that as part of their plan to be carbon neutral by 2050, they are rolling out a plan to eliminate gas powered vehicles by 2040. IPC will continue to work hard to drive the proper manufacturing required to ensure electric vehicles are produced to correct standards.

In the coming weeks, we will have a certification program available for IPC-6012DA: Automotive Applications Addendum to IPC-6012D, Qualification and Performance Specification for Rigid Printed Boards, which provides documentation/drawings for rigid printed boards that must survive the vibration and thermal cycling environments of electronic interconnects within the automotive industry.

And, as of last year, IPC began the development of a press-fit standard for automotive requirements[1]. This standard, which was requested by the European automotive electronics industry, intends to cover the qualifications and acceptance requirements for press-fit pin technology that includes the reliability needs for automotive and other industries, such as aerospace.

For more information on IPC’s standards development initiatives including those for the automotive industry, visit our standards website[2].


1. IPC Announces Development of a Pressfit Pin Standard for Automotive Requirements


John Mitchell is president and CEO of IPC—Association Connecting Electronics Industries. To read past columns or to contact Mitchell, click here.

This column originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here.



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