The Zombie Problem

Cars last for a long time. In the United States, the average car lasts for about 15 years.

As cars become more reliant on software, this introduces something called the Zombie Problem.

“A car can be on the roads for decades, but the company that made it and the suppliers of its components aren’t likely to keep providing software updates for its full lifetime. ”

There are a few different solutions to this problem:

  1. Do nothing. Owners of older cars will have to bear the risks posed by out-of-date software.
  2. Maintain the software. This will be expensive.
  3. Design cars and components for backward compatibility. This might accelerate disruption in the industry, as newer entrants don’t have to carry the cost of supporting older vehicles.
  4. Consolidate around a few larger software suppliers. This allows the software suppliers to amortize the cost of backward compatibility across many more vehicles.

Originally published at on February 1, 2016.

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