Automotive Software Standards – Quality Compliance on Focus

Automotive Industry is witnessing a widespread proliferation of software applications in various functions and features on a vehicle. The embedded software applications consist of millions of lines of code that control braking and engine management to central locking. This heavy reliance on safety-critical software calls for various stakeholders from top level Manufacturers, OEMs to multiple suppliers adhere to a common standard specified by the industry. This ensures the quality of the software developed across the stakeholders and prevents the risk of delay in development, costly recalls, loss of life or damage to the brand name.

Automotive industry follows key standards like ISO 26262 functional safety standard and Motor Industry Software Reliability Association’s C coding standards (MISRA-C), IEC 61508, ISO 15504 (Automotive SPICE), and CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) for safety-critical automotive software and device developers. These standards jointly represent a solid basis for setting software quality goals in the automotive sector.

ISO 26262

ISO 26262 mandates the use of better development process, coding standards, and tools that ensure that coding standards are adhered to. ISO 26262 is an adaptation of IEC 61508, which addresses functional safety in automotive passenger car production, and has been widely adopted by the whole automotive industry. ISO 26262 pertains to the functional safety of electrical and electronic (E/E) systems in vehicles. According to ISO 26262, functional safety affects all systems containing electrical, electronic, or electromechanical components. ISO 26262 recognizes that software safety and security must be addressed in a systematic way throughout the software development life cycle (SDLC). This includes the safety requirements traceability, software design, coding and verification processes used to ensure correctness, control, and confidence both in the software and in the systems to which that software contributes.


MISRA (the Motor Industry Software Reliability Association) write guidelines and coding standards that provide a safe subset of the C and C++ languages and practical advice about development best practices for use in safety-critical applications. MISRA C is used within organizations’ development groups and between suppliers, contractors, and customers to ensure code quality and compliance.


CMMI was initially created by the SEI and used as a model for process improvement. CMMI stands for Capability Maturity Model Integration and is a structured and systematic collection of best practices for process-improvement. CMMI’s staged representation is being widely used in the software and systems engineering industry, mainly because of its step-wise improvement scheme and it is becoming a de facto standard especially in USA and India.

ISO 15504 (Automotive SPICE)

Special Interest Group Automotive from ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) published the industry-specific standard ‘Automotive SPICE’, (Software Process Improvement and Capability dEtermination) derived from the ISO 15504 International Standard (IS) for software process assessments. This method is consulted more as an objective process evaluation and for the process improvements resulting from it on the project and organizational level. Automotive SPICE has its own Process Reference Model (PRM) and Process Assessment Model (PAM). Mainly used by OEMs to evaluate their suppliers as well as by organizations for their Capability Evaluation.

ASPICE IS widely accepted and used by Automotive Industry by OEMs and stake holders in the supply chain (Suppliers) worldwide. Extremely popular in Germany, Japan and now gaining popularity in US, China, Korea and India. ASPICE implementation leads to better processes and better product quality. It also helps to improve the cooperation among complex supply chains and between globally distributed development and engineering centers.

To conclude, an organization implementing ASPICE, ISO 26262 and other industry standards certainly will have an edge over its competitors when evaluated by any OEM worldwide. As Automotive SPICE is developed by Automotive SIG consisting of all major OEMs e.g. BMW, VW, Daimler etc., they have specified requirements and scope of implementation of SPICE. Also, ISO 26262 is being requested by OEMs from their suppliers. On its entirety, all automotive standards are driven by the purpose of adhering to common quality goals and thus safeguarding life, property and the environment.

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