Essentials for Automotive Grade Electronic Components Design and Development

If you have ever been to a drag racing track, then your life is much richer for it. There is nothing quite like the excitement of the crowd in the moments before the race starts. Sometimes, I think the adrenaline I felt as a spectator had to at least equal that of the drivers in the race. Of course, the vehicles actually make the event worthwhile, as they must withstand extreme conditions just to make it to the finish line intact. Using substandard components, devices and systems not only produces poor results but may also contribute to injury.


Although driving on the street is not as strenuous as racing, using lower than automotive grade electronic components can yield similar results, including injury. Therefore, it is critical that your PCB design and development include adherence to automotive industry standards. This is true for manually driven vehicles and electric vehicles (EVs) but even more so for autonomous vehicles (AVs). Let’s take a look at the major systems of automotive vehicles and then define essential requirements for automotive grade electronic components to ensure that vehicles meet their performance and safety objectives.

Major Automotive Systems

Today, automobiles are complex machines that typically have tens of thousands of components. Yet, overall functionality and operation can be defined by less than ten major systems. For newer vehicles, including EVs and AVs, virtually all of these systems may contain electronics as listed below.

🚘 Brake system

🚘 Drivetrain

🚘 Electrical system

🚘 Engine

🚘 Exhaust system

🚘 Frame and body

🚘 Fuel system

🚘 Ignition system

🚘 Suspension and steering systems

In an effort to improve the ride quality for passengers and drivers, vehicles utilize sensors to monitor road conditions, air pressure, fluid levels, battery charge level, speeds and temperatures and control units to manage operations. To successfully perform these tasks, automotive electronics must be able to withstand the rigors or motion over sometimes rough terrain, function in temperatures that may range from extremely cold to extremely hot, and operate reliably for extended periods, typically years.

Essential Requirements for Automotive Grade Electronic Components

The development of electronic devices capable of meeting the requirements for critical automotive system deployment depends on the design and manufacture of the PCBs that comprise them. For guidance and assurance, your design and development process must meet regulatory requirements based upon vehicle automation classification, SAE J3016_201401, board type (rigid, IPC-6012DA, flex or rigid-flex, IPC-6013D), quality management, International Automotive Task Force (IATF) 16949, and board performance class, IPC-6011.

Additionally, the Automotive Electronics Council (AEC) provides testing requirements based on automotive grade electronic component type. These include AEC-Q100 for ICs, AEC-Q101 for discrete semiconductors, AEC-Q102 of optoelectronic semiconductors, AEC-Q104 for multichip modules and AEC-Q200 for passive components. To support your design and development process, certain essentials should be employed for each stage of your board’s manufacture.

PCBA Manufacturing for Extreme Environments - Part 1

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Automotive Grade Electronic Components Essentials

  • Fabrication - Employ design choices that emphasize reliability.

The reliability of your board’s fabrication is dependent upon you incorporating electrical, mechanical and environmental considerations to ensure your board meets the critical requirements for automotive systems.

  • Component Procurement - Optimize your component selection.

The critical nature of the automotive system development necessitates that you only use the best components and can verify their capabilities. Therefore, you should ensure that your components are sourced from reputable suppliers.

  • PCB Assembly - Ensure your boards are inspected thoroughly.

To ensure that your components are attached securely, your contract manufacturer (CM) should perform visual inspections. This circuit board testing should include manual evaluations and in-depth automated optical inspection (AOI).

Automotive vehicles present perhaps the most hazardous environment for electronic devices as they must contend with extreme temperature variation, motion and vibrations, and last for extended periods of time. Therefore, it is imperative that you utilize automotive grade electronic components.

Tempo‘s Custom Vehicle Electrification PCB Manufacturing Service
  • ISO-9001, IPC-600 and IPC-610 commitment to quality certifications.
  • Accurate quote in less than a day.
  • DFM support from Day 1 of design.
  • Entire turnkey PCB manufacturing in as fast as 3 days.
  • Agile manufacturing process to quickly adapt to fast-evolving EV and AV industry.
  • Sources components from the most reputable suppliers in the industry to reduce procurement time and help with component security.
  • Performs multiple automated inspections during PCB assembly to ensure PCB quality for prototyping and low volume production.
  • Standard quality testing; including X-ray and inline AOI.

Tempo Automation, the industry leader in fast, high-quality PCB prototyping and low-volume production, will assist you to meet the regulatory requirements for your development and help you apply the essentials to support your board's manufacturing.

And to help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for your DFM and enable you to easily view and download DRC files. If you’re an Altium user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software.

If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you want more information on automotive grade electronic components and how you can optimize your PCB design for the automotive industry, contact us.

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