Automotive Communication Protocol: What are They?

Today is an era of technology, leading to an increment in its use. Technology plays a very big role in day-to-day life. The involvement of technology has grown rapidly in the automotive domain by increasing the use of vehicle communication. Electronic Control Units (ECUs) interact with other ECUs to communicate with other vehicles. 

The minimum of 30+ ECUs while a maximum of 90+ ECUs claims in luxury vehicles. This makes automotive communication protocols more challenging. The types of vehicle communication networks are:

  • CAN
  • LIN
  • FlexRay
  • MOST

What is Automotive Communication Protocol?

An automotive communication protocol is a method for transferring data from one vehicle to another utilising serial data bus or wireless. In this way, the vehicle communicates with each other. 

The variety in the car domain requirement made many automotive systems, including Local Interconnect Networks (LIN), Controller Area Networks (CAN), FlexRay(expensive, yet faster and reliable than CAN and TTP), media-oriented system transport (MOST), etc. 

Use of Communication in Automotive System

During the old times, automotive systems were connected to fewer nodes. But due to the change in the era, everything evolved. In today’s time, approximately 45 to 70 subsystems are present in a car. This helps the automobile with various functionalities and helps to work more effectively. 

With the use of communication, automobiles work better. Data transfer helps an automobile to perform various tasks. From the start of the car to its stopping, communication happens continuously. 

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Types of Communication Protocols

There are various communication protocols available in modern times. They can be widely categorised into three types:

  • Datalink Protocols

This type of communication protocol helps in the implementation of the physical layer of the automobile. For higher bandwidth communication, SPI (serial peripheral interface), LIN (local interconnect network), I2C, CAN (control area network), and FlexRay is generally used. 

  • Application Protocols

Application protocol use datalink protocol as the underlying layer. UDS, MOST, J1939, and CAN-Open are some of their examples.

  • Other Protocols

Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB, and 4G-5G come under this category. 

Current Trends in Automotive Communication

In the past times, CAN was used very often in ECUs. A major part of the communication was done by CAN, whether during high-speed (1 Mbps) or low-speed (125 kbps) for high critical features. Although, LIN was generally used for less critical features. CAN-LIN was in use. 

But as time changed, CAN-FD, CAN-Flexible-Datarate (with a data speed of 5 Mbps), and Flex-Ray (with a data speed of 10 Mbps) came into use. Ethernet or wireless is used by the latest applications like ADAS and Telematics Units to fulfil specific bandwidth demands. 


In the automotive industry, vehicle communication protocols have changed everything. The manufacture of vehicles is more comfortable and efficient. A high level of performance is experienced today, with great luxury. 

The use of CAN has increased over time. The new level of advancement in automotive communication has opened many gates for development. This wide area of communication now works according to the user’s requirements. 

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