Is the Toyota Recall a Sign of Things to Come in the Automotive Wire Harness Business?

logoThere are a number of theories floating around concerning the largest automotive recall by Toyota in history. The sticking of the gas pedal, the conversion from a mechanical to electrical accelerators, floor mats getting caught in the accelerator pedal, electronics and software, computers and electromagnetic interference (EMI). Whatever the problem, it will bring a lot closer monitoring by the regulators than ever before.

It is a fact that the amount of electronics in an automobile is increasing at a fast rate. Auto manufacturers have to scramble to keep up to date with developments in the consumer electronics field. Estimates are that up to 40% of the cost of a car is in the electronics.

In the late 1990’s the European auto manufacturers started to consider the next generation of wiring for “infotainment systems”. They concluded that in order to meet the demands of increased electronics and computers in the auto, the trend to digitalization, and increased levels and sensitivity to EMI, that the transmission media should be optical in a ring architectures. In this way, electrical functions could be electrically isolated from one another.

This resulted in the MOST Standard and by 2009, there were over 70 models of European autos on the road consisting of over 70 million optical nodes. Acceptance of the MOST Standard, however, has been slow by the U.S and Japanese auto manufacturers. The Korean manufactures have just started to install MOST.

It is interesting to note that Toyota went to the MOST Cooperation and recommended a copper based version of MOST. The MOST Corporation agreed to the copper based version if Toyota developed the standard and had it approved by MOST. How many cars in the recall have copper based MOST is not known, however, it is reasonable to expect that the regulators will be looking into aspects of automotive electronics and the interconnection thereof.

The development of the MOST system is covered in the "Plastic Optical Fiber Market & Technology Assessment Study” from Information Gatekeepers. A table of contents of the report can be seen here.