The 1978 model year marks a turning point in the introduction of electronic controls in automobiles. Although most of the existing functions are performed with analog circuitry, microprocessors are beginning to come into their own. Their ability to respond to the challenge rests largely on communications. Establishment of standards for timing, inter-connection and protocol are a necessary but not sufficient condition for the orderly development of compatible support products employing different technologies. This paper discusses some techniques for avoiding communication bottlenecks and introduces the concept of semi-smart peripherals. Cited examples include spark control, A - D conversion and display control.