More MBS Coverage TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Autosar, the German-based industry effort to create a common electronic architecture that would cut development costs for auto makers and suppliers of navigation and information equipment, may not work as expected.

A supplier executive says BMW AG is developing its own version of an electronic architecture it will introduce in 2008 that, while it has elements coming from Autosar, will be a BMW product.

BMW was one of the founding members of Autosar, with Robert Bosch GmbH, Continental Teves GmbH, DaimlerChrysler AG and Volkswagen AG.

Fiat Auto SpA already has moved to get the advantages of a common architecture by using the Microsoft Mobile for Automotive operating system.

And Microsoft on July 12 introduced its more powerful Microsoft Automotive 5.0 system in Japan that also would serve as an alternative to waiting for the Autosar standards, scheduled to be completed in August 2006. (See related story: Microsoft Shows New Vehicle Software)

Auto companies all see the advantages of having a common architecture to reduce the time needed to integrate features in their vehicles, but some of them also see competitive advantages in having their own electronics platform.

The Fiat approach may become the industry norm, in which a company has the same electronics across its whole line of vehicles, but not the same as other companies.

The Fiat version is engineered for particular hardware and software options. It will have a universal USB port in the dashboard that allows consumer products such as iPods to plug in, but voice control, navigation and wireless connectivity availability will vary by vehicle model line. (See related story: Fiat to Offer Low-Cost Telematics System on All Models)

The Microsoft Automotive 5.0 is a more robust operating system that allows more customization, so it would work with a variety of voice-recognition systems, for example. It also has more debugging tools built in, says a Microsoft spokesman. The upgraded software was unveiled in Tokyo because Japanese car makers are developing computer-intensive features such as 3-dimensional navigation screens and karaoke systems.

There also is a powerful movement in Europe toward the Linux open source operating system that would reduce costs for auto makers. The Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corp. has hosted several well-attended Linux conferences.

It is unclear whether the Autosar standards will be compatible with what Microsoft already has on the market, or whether they will be competing approaches to the same idea.