The new aerial communication protocol “Controller Area Network” (CAN) efficiently supports distributed realtime control in automotive applications. In order to unload CPUs from high-speed message transfer, dedicated CAN hardware handles messages up to the communication object level.In multiplex wiring message rates are one to two orders of magnitude lower, allowing to implement the upper communication level more cost-effectively in software. This reduces CAN interface hardware to bitwise protocol handling only. It may be incorporated even into low-end microcontrollers without significantly increasing chip size. Thus the same CAN protocol supports the entire range of serial automotive communication, matching implementation costs to requirements at each performance level.