RoboSafety: Navigating the Landscape of Software-Driven Vehicle Recalls

Picture of Donia Cahouch

Donia Cahouch

Chief Technology Officer

RoboSafety: Navigating the Landscape of Software-Driven Vehicle Recalls

As the automotive industry stands on the cusp of a technological revolution, with vehicles becoming increasingly connected and reliant on complex software systems, a consequential challenge has emerged—software-related recalls. The surge in connected cars, equipped with ever-sophisticated software, has given rise to a significant increase in software-related recalls, particularly in the United States.

In 2019, global connected car shipments exceeded a staggering 51 million units, marking a remarkable 45% increase from the previous year. The projections are even more astounding, with estimates indicating that by 2024, the number of connected cars will soar to 85 million units. Through an exhaustive analysis of data sourced from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall database, we aim to shed illuminating insights on the current state of affairs within the US automotive industry.

The Rise of Software-Related Recalls

The ascent of software-related recalls has not transpired overnight; rather, it has been a gradual progression. The trajectory of software recalls has been consistently upward, culminating in near all-time highs for 2019—a year that witnessed a threefold spike in such recalls compared to a decade earlier in 2009. The principal factor contributing to this surge is the proliferation of advanced software within newer vehicles. These cutting- edge models are equipped with increasingly intricate software applications, which, though brimming with potential, also introduce software defects.

Unsurprisingly, it is the latest model years that bear the brunt of these software-related defects. This trend underscores the critical role software plays in modern vehicle design and operation. However, it’s worth noting that the adoption of a software-first approach in automotive design is relatively new territory for many automakers, except for notable exceptions like Tesla and emerging electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers that essentially operate as software companies. Large-scale software development initiatives often span years before they come to fruition, a factor contributing to the extended timelines required for software recall resolutions.

The Road to Recall Completion

In the realm of software recall resolutions, time is of the essence. Data analysis reveals that it typically takes approximately six months to achieve a software recall completion rate of around 50%. However, in many instances, it takes more than a full calendar year to comprehensively address a software recall campaign. This protracted duration underscores the complexities and challenges inherent in resolving software-related defects within modern vehicles.

The journey from the announcement of a recall to its commencement is another critical aspect of the recall process. On average, there is a 48-day gap between the recall announcement and the initiation of recall remedies at dealerships. This period reflects the time it takes for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to develop a software fix and initiate the recall process. Notably, in some cases, automakers have taken over five months to provide a software remedy.

Addressing the Challenges Ahead

RoboSafety recognizes the imperative for the automotive industry to adapt swiftly and effectively to the challenges posed by software-related recalls. OEMs must embrace agility and responsiveness when dealing with these issues to ensure timely resolution.

This proactive approach not only reduces the number of unremedied vehicles on the road, enhancing overall safety, but also leads to significant cost savings for OEMs. It improves dealer network efficiency, capacity, and effectiveness while ensuring that software fixes are delivered in a timely, effective, and secure manner.

RoboSafety stands at the forefront of this transformative journey within the automotive industry.

We are driving positive change, enhancing the safety and reliability of vehicles on the road. The company’s commitment to innovation and safety underscores its pivotal role in shaping the future of mobility.

Disclaimer: The data mentioned in this blog post is based on information available up to March 2022 and may be subject to change as the automotive industry continues toevolve.

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