Integrated Center Stacks: Center of the Universe for Automotive Interiors

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The ITB Group Publishes an Analysis of Technical and Business Developments in Center Stacks

The ITB Group, an international automotive consulting firm, has published a 2011 multiclient report that covers technical and business developments in Automotive Integrated Center Stacks. This is the result of extensive interviews with industry participants to identify the supply base for present and future center stack business, with an eye on the required key expertise. The supply base now encompasses traditional Tier Ones, molders, printers, haptic technology licensors, semiconductor companies, and, increasingly software developers. There are currently a number of potential entrants to the automotive center stack market.

OEMs such as Ford and General Motors have been steadily consolidating their infotainment and HVAC functions into a single stylized switch panel that is dissociated from the electronic intelligence, while others continue to prefer radio and HVAC brick modules that can be replicated throughout numerous vehicles. Mechanical content such as CD players are targeted for elimination from the car, while new interfaces such as haptic touch panels and dead-front displays are in development. It is a challenging time, as no one truly knows what the consumer wants.

Automotive OEMs have been responding to the social revolution of consumer mobile devices, acting to expand telematics and smartphone integration into their vehicles, however they are also keeping an eye on the design goals for continuous surfaces and brand identity. Is there a way that a touch display module can convey craftsmanship? Automotive requirements for electronic durability are steep. An iPhone will not operate at -40°C, but car electronics need to.

A key area of interest in this report is the role of electronic architectures, where a different type of behind the scenes integration is taking place, with attempts to reduce ECUs where possible, and envelop more functions into more powerful processors, to reduce bus traffic, which continues to give a lease on life for CAN architectures. Timely and relevant examples from recent European, Japanese, and North American vehicle launches are examined, to convey an understanding of the type of E/E strategy and functional partitioning at work.

This 290-page report evaluates the above developments together with styling trends and the evolving philosophies for HMI. The forecasts for the value of the integrated center stack market in 2011 and 2016 are presented.

Automotive suppliers who are trying to establish a direction in their product development for infotainment or HVAC will be well-served by this report from The ITB Group.

About The ITB Group
The ITB Group, Ltd. is an international automotive consulting firm headquartered in Novi, Michigan, USA, that provides technical and business advice to OEMs, component and material suppliers in North America, Europe, and Asia. The company is a leading expert in automotive interiors, and has considerable knowledge in materials, design and the business structure of that market.

The ITB Group published its first comprehensive report on automotive interiors in 1992. Report subscribers are typically leading companies in their fields, and find ITB’s reports useful as a strategic planning guide to clarify research and development efforts, to provide key inputs for strategic and marketing plans and as an aid for M&A efforts.

In addition to its reports on interiors, The ITB Group organizes an annual interiors conference, which is a forum for OEMs and suppliers to present new technologies, exhibit new products, and network on a personal level. The event, now in its eleventh year, has become a highly respected information exchange for participants in the global interiors business. This year, it will host its first interiors conference in Shanghai, China.

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Darren Nowak
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