Automotive SPICE

1.2 Basic info

Basic Idea

The Automotive SPICE Model is a structured collection of best practices for the automotive industry. It enables companies to improve processes either for themselves or for their suppliers. Automotive SPICE is used by manyn automobile manufacturers and suppliers as a means of qualifying their suppliers and also assessing the risks associated with their suppliers. Often they are required to achieve a certain capability level in selected processes to even get a contract. Reaching the level is checked through performing assessments.

In Automotive SPICE the “capability levels” partition the model into clusters of best practices that build on each other and describe the ascent to better command and control of the development. There are levels from zero to five. Achieving a level often requires cultural changes and can therefore take considerable time and effort. To achieve, for example, level three in a larger organization typically three to five years are required, if starting at level zero (0).

Process assessment

Whether one has achieved a particular level is determined in an assessment. An  assessment typically focuses on a project and investigates a predetermined set of Automotive SPICE processes. Results are statements of strengths and weaknesses, improvement recommendations and level ratings. An assessment can be carried out by oneself (“self-assessment”) or by independent persons. For assessments to be recognized in the automotive industry they must be carried out by qualified specialists. The only training system recognized by the VDA is INTACS.

INTACS qualification levels for assessors and instructors
INTACS qualification levels for assessors and instructors

Training of assessors: the INTACS organization

INTACS (International Assessor Certification Scheme e.V.) is a not-for-profit organization based in Potsdam, Germany. INTACS defines requirements for the training and certification of assessors for ISO/IEC 330xx-conformant models. intacs collaborates with certification bodies that perform the accreditation of training providers and certification of trainers and assessors. The current certification bodies are:

  • ECQA – for ISO/IEC 15504 process assessment model (PAM), ISO 20000 PAM,
  • VDA QMC – for Automotive SPICE

INTACS defines the qualification levels. The qualificationpath distinguishes three levels: Provisional Assessor and Competent Assessor are qualified for specific process assessment models only. Principal Assessors are qualified for all models. Principal Assessors can become instructors. There are two instructor levels: provisional course and competent course levels.

You can find more information about courses here:

Where to apply Automotive SPICE?

Automotive SPICE is used in the automotive industry for the development of mechatronic systems, consisting of mechanics, electronics and software. Examples are navigation systems, instrument clusters, engine control units, transmission control units. The contents of Automotive SPICE focus on software and system engineering. However, in software-only projects one would focus on software and descope the system engineering processes. Processes for other engineering disciplines such as hardware and mechanical engineering can be supplied through separate models. However, most assessments focus on software and system engineering. The main reason is that the automobile manufacturers currently do not require assessments of hardware or mechanics. This is because most of the functionality is implemented by software which causes also most of the problems.


In a mechatronic system Automotive SPICE processes cover the red parts only. Processes for
hardware and mechanics can be plugged in through separate models.
In a mechatronic system Automotive SPICE processes cover the red parts only. Processes for hardware and mechanics can be plugged in through separate models.

Where Automotive SPICE is applied

Initially, the use of Automotive SPICE was strongly influenced by the automobile manufacturers in Europe but has also been adopted by the North American OEMs. The OEMs require compliance with Automotive SPICE in their contracts. They usually also force their tier one suppliers to require Automotive SPICE from their suppliers. Because of the global supply relationships most of the suppliers all over the world need to implement Automotive SPICE. Another driving force is that Automotive SPICE is a very good basis for implementing the ISO 26262, the Automotive safety standard. Automotive SPICE is enforced by OEMs of passenger cars and also by OEMs of commercial vehicles.

Automotive SPICE: development, maintenance, conferences

The development and maintenance is carried out by the VDA WG 13. Development topics include a standardized assessment process, guidelines for performing assessments, and guidelines for model interpretation. The WG 13 is composed of individuals from Volkswagen, BMW, FORD Europe, Daimler, Bosch, Continental, ZF Friedrichshafen, Schaeffler, Knorr Bremse and Kugler Maag Cie. The most important conference is the yearly “VDA Automotive SYS”. Besides this conference the exchange of experiences is promoted at the Gate4SPICE events (an initiative of intacs, see next section).

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