New Roland Berger study: Consolidation in Vehicle Electronic Architectures

  • Automotive consumers expect the latest features and functions in electronics and safety regardless if they are buying a luxury sedan or compact volume vehicle
  • These features add complexity to vehicle's electric/electronic (E/E) architectures and proliferate the number of Electronic Control Units (ECUs) by having dedicated processors and memory
  • We are at the tipping point in the automotive industry when adding a new ECU for new features is no longer sustainable – both from a cost perspective and an E/E architecture complexity perspective
  • The module consolidation approach leverages modern technologies to add speed and flexibility to vehicle electronic architectures, while saving cost – USD 175 per vehicle for cockpit electronics is realistic from a total cost of ownership perspective
  • Despite the current availability of solutions, OEMs have concerns and have been slow to adopt module consolidation – but solutions to their concerns now exist
  • Players across the value chain that act now to drive module consolidation solutions have the potential to gain the most value from the shift in E/E architecture standards that has already started

CHICAGO--()--Consumers expect the latest and greatest in electronics and safety when they go to buy a car. Whether it's an instrument cluster with a graphics rich, fully reconfigurable display or a lane departure warning system, a tremendous amount of processing power and electronic communication is required to operate today's vehicles. Today's approach to adding these features to vehicle's electric/electronic (E/E) architectures is "ad-hoc," simply adding a new ECU every time a new vehicle feature requires processing power. While this solution has worked for a time, the industry is now at a tipping point, with this approach becoming too expensive and adding too much complexity to be sustainable. In its new study, Consolidation in Vehicle Electronic Architectures, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants explores a solution to this increasing complexity, known as module consolidation.

"All major automotive trends today, from improved cockpit electronics to new ADAS features, are largely enabled by advanced electronics systems," says Thomas Wendt, a Senior Partner in Roland Berger's North American Automotive practice. "OEMs will not be able to keep up with consumer's expectations, both in terms of quality and price, if they continue to add ECUs every time they want to add a new feature," explains Wendt. "A 'blank sheet' approach to electronic architecture design is needed."

The blank sheet approach

Module consolidation is a technical solution leveraging modern, multicore processing technologies to operate multiple ECUs which all traditionally had their own processors. In a multicore solution, these ECUs retain dedicated processing space, usually in the form of their own core in the processor. However, a number of redundant components are eliminated, including housings, power supplies, wire mounts and harnesses, as well as the processors themselves, all saving cost. Additionally, ECUs communicate within the processor itself instead of communicating over a network such as the CAN bus; increasing speed and reducing complexity.

The value iceberg

Roland Berger's study quantifies the cost advantages of module consolidation from the perspective of an OEM. Taking a sample set of cockpit electronics, Roland Berger conducted a total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis, comparing the cost of independent ECUs to the cost of a consolidation solution running on a multicore processor with the same feature and function set. The result was a TCO advantage of USD 175 per vehicle, including direct piece price savings which are just the "tip of the iceberg." The savings identified also include indirect, yet quantifiable, advantages of consolidation such as weight savings.

The time is now

Despite module consolidation's clear advantages, OEMs have been slow to adopt the solution. This is largely due to safety and security concerns related to running multiple ECUs on the same processor. While there is some merit to this concern, advanced suppliers have already developed a solution to this issue, known as "hardware virtualization."

Due to a clear need and availability of a solution it is now time for the automotive community to re-think legacy E/E architectures and adopt consolidated module solutions. The first movers have an opportunity to capture a tremendous amount of value, both through savings and the ability to offer a superior product to end consumers.

You can download the study free of charge at:

Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, founded in 1967, is the only leading global consultancy with German heritage and of European origin. With 2,400 employees working from 36 countries, we have successful operations in all major international markets. Our 50 offices are located in the key global business hubs. The consultancy is an independent partnership owned exclusively by 220 Partners.


Roland Berger Strategy Consultants
Linda Saliba

Release Summary

Module consolidation approach leverages modern technologies to add speed and flexibility to vehicle electronic architectures, while saving cost–USD 175 per vehicle realistically from a TCO perspective


Roland Berger Strategy Consultants
Linda Saliba