Advances in development—again most vigorously driven by the progress of electronics—have led to increasingly complex systems, which in their turn often have complex elements, e.g. control device hardware and software. These new possibilities in design are leading to desirable features such as expanded functionality, improved efficiency or self-diagnosis.However, this increased complexity also means that individuals can no longer retain an overview of interrelationships down to the last detail.

A road vehicle is used in widely differing situations. There are different countries, often with their own regulations, different road conditions, different climatic or topological conditions. Road vehicles are driven by drivers with differing levels of skill, differing mentalities or differing driving cultures. Even if a modular system has been developed for a model range, the system boundaries cannot be regarded as homogeneous. Variations in engine and power train and every possible variant for options have to be taken into account in development.

Road vehicle development is an evolutionary process. On the one hand, this leads to continuous further development and a high degree of maturity. On the other hand, this often leaves no room for top-down new development, so that attention constantly has to be paid to compatibility with existing elements or architectures. The associated add-on solutions are pragmatic, but pose an obstacle to ongoing and sustainable quality development. There is rarely an opportunity for a fresh start or re-engineering, as the costs of this fresh start would make the pilot system considerably more expensive than a further add-on solution.