In cars today, there is a shift from mechanical to software-driven vehicles. Cars are no longer primarily mechanical devices. The connected era is leading to the integration of multiple industry domains, bringing together communications, automotive and consumer electronics. Recent improvements in electronics, computers, and software features reduce tooling cost, as well as allow for easier after-delivery re-configuration and maintenance.
Currently, most automotive OEMs are promoting proprietary systems with specific eco-system partners, and the argument about open or closed architecture platforms rumbles on. Another major trend in connected vehicles is over the air (OTA) software updates, especially as 60-70% of recalls in North America and Europe are software-related.
Infotainment systems is evolving into an open ecosystem, including smartphones and in-car Internet connectivity. Cars are also incorporating HUDs, clusters and central displays, often with touchscreens and voice recognition to reduce driver distraction.
OEMs are creating applications for various functionalities, like remote services, diagnostics, navigation, social networking, radio and entertainment. There is also a strong demand for improving energy saving, pollution control and road safety that can only be satisfied by electronic solutions. The development of hybrid and electric vehicles will make them prevalent beyond 2020.
Frost & Sullivan expects more than 90% of the vehicles in 2020 to be connected; there will be a wide array of services irrespective of vehicle segment. According to industry experts, it represented 11% of car sales in 2013 and it could reach 80% in 2018, when 20% of all the automobiles in circulation will be connected cars.
Here is a timeline of major electronics innovations in cars:
1966-1992 Oldsmobile Toronado - Introduced electronic anti-lock braking system, and airbag  First modern-era American car with front wheel drive.
1968: Volkswagen introduces the first on-board computer system with scanning capability and by 1980 General Motors implements a proprietary interface and protocol for testing of the Engine Control Module (ECM) and by 1996: The OBD-II specification is made mandatory for all cars manufactured in the United States
1973-present Mercedes-Benz S-Class -electronic traction control system
1985 Antilock braking system (ABS) available on American cars
1990- Honda claims the first Navigation systems, in the 1990 Acura Legend.
1995 - BMW and Mercedes-Benz introduced Electronic stability systemsin '95 models.
1997 - First American carmaker offers automatic stability control
2002 - Honda and Saturn first offered DVD players as options in 2002 models.
2010 - Nissan Leaf all-electric car and Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid were launched in the U.S. and Japanese markets
2000 - Nissan's Infiniti included Rearview cameras (all new automobiles to have backup cameras by 2018)
2006 - an upgraded version of reverse parallel parking debuted for the first time outside Japan on the Lexus LS luxury sedan
2003 - Honda inroducted the first collision avoidance system, as an automobile safety system designed to reduce the severity of an accident.
2011- Lane change detection available in multiple cars
2011 - self driving cars became legal in Nevada , and now in 4 states (by 2015)
2014 - Google presented a new concept for their driverless car that had neither a steering wheel nor pedals, and unveiled a fully functioning prototype