By on February 26, 2020

vw
Series production of the Volkswagen ID.3 began last November, but examples have yet to reach paying customers. The compact electric hatchback, seen as a people’s car for a new, greener age, is the vanguard of a massive EV product offensive from the auto giant. VW had hoped to give the model (which we won’t see here) a big, showy sales launch.

That launch, scheduled for Europe this summer, may not go ahead as planned. A report out of Germany claims the car contains so many bugs, an army of over 10,000 technicians is now tasked with fixing it.

It’s not the first time we’ve heard of software issues plaguing VW’s first ID-badged model. Reports emerged from Germany in December of “massive” software problems, with production models rolling off the assembly line requiring manual fixes. Now, the window of safety VW built into the model’s production schedule seems to be closing.

As reported by Manager Magazin (via Automotive News), the launch is in jeopardy as workers attempt to plug the many holes in the model’s software. Reportedly, the system controlling the vehicle’s many electric functions came together “too hastily,” leading to the ongoing issue. It seems many areas of the system don’t get along with each other.

The publication claims hundreds of VW test drivers have reported up to 300 errors a day. The ID.3 is VW’s first application of its MEB electric architecture and the software designed to make everything work; later models will include a crossover (ID.4), a microbus, and any number of sedans, SUVs, and perhaps even sports cars.

Following VW’s diesel emissions scandal, the automaker sunk mountains of money transforming itself into the world’s foremost purveyor of electric vehicles. As the first, smallest, and cheapest member of the ID line, the ID.3 has an important role to play. It will be the face of the new Volkswagen; the harbinger of a new era.

Should such problems find their way to the consumer, or if the ID.3 is delayed significantly, the potential for financial damage to VW through a lasting stigma and reduced sales could be enormous. The automaker knows it has to get this vehicle right.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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38 Comments on “Software Issues May Scrub Sales Launch of Volkswagen’s Revolutionary EV...”


  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    It’s a bit hard to fathom 10,000 software technicians to fix it. Seems to me it’s too complex in the first place, it’s a simple car.

    Are we headed to the Microsoft model of patches every week forever more for a car? Based on my experiences with FCA and GM that in itself will be a disaster.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Yeah, I had to laugh at that one. Nailing Jelly to a Tree comes to mind.

    • 0 avatar
      roloboto

      Considering the electrical gremlins that exist in my 2005 jetta, Im not surprised VW is having software problems.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Those issues are not always software problems. I’ve discovered over decades of self-repair that many problems are due to cold solder joints on the circuit boards.

        • 0 avatar
          EGSE

          @Vulpine – “Those issues are not always software problems. I’ve discovered over decades of self-repair that many problems are due to cold solder joints on the circuit boards.”

          Agreed, though I’m sure VW is using many vehicles in their test fleet and whatever physical workmanship defects may exist, they’ve already screened those out. Also they’ve certainly verified the individual electrical modules are working on the bench.

          On a CAN buss any node can be a master. Paul Rako, a former GM engineer and one-time contributor to Electronic Design News wrote a few articles about his experience at GM chasing down CAN buss contention issues, where individual modules that functioned correctly in isolation caused problems that were difficult to diagnose when combined together.

    • 0 avatar
      loopy55

      This is one of those stories that was probably made up- straight up clickbait.

    • 0 avatar
      loopy55

      This is one of those stories that was probably made up- straight up clickbait.

    • 0 avatar
      Sceptic

      You can’t gather 9 women and have a baby in 1 month. Software development works the same way. You can’t throw people at the problem to solve it quickly. Doesn’t work.

  • avatar

    Gee, that’s a surprise.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Software problems? Throw more programmers at it!

    Brook’s Law comes to mind.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    An automobile’s software is usually divided into three major aspects:

    Critical, real time. Think powertrain management.
    Critical, intermittent usage. Think brakes and airbags and most other safety devices.
    Non critical. Infotainment and cabin controls.

    And a huge encompassing software arbitrating all of them and the finite amount of shared resources.

    This is where the problems start. Like the good old behavior of Windows 95, 98 and Me, software crashes ensue. The blue screen of death.

    But whereas in a computer crash all would be contained to losing non-saved data and some cursing, in a real vehicle this could lead to legitimate crashes, the kind where steel and flesh are bent out of shape.

    As much as I dislike Microsoft, I’ve to recognize that Microsoft has become pretty adept at preventing and/or recovering from these situations. How long ago was the last time one experienced a blue screen of death?

    Automakers still have long ways to fully figure this one out.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @schmitt trigger: “How long ago was the last time one experienced a blue screen of death?”
      — More recently than you might think. Oh, Microsoft has gotten better but such a failure is still possible and I’ve seen it happen on two different machines this month alone.

      But honestly, there’s something even worse than the Blue Screen and that’s the complete freeze… where certain functions simply quit working while others may continue, leaving you to believe it is functioning normally. Maybe the screen stops working but the audio continues as though nothing were wrong… will the vehicle, for instance, realize that the camera images aren’t changing while the other sensors say there are cars, curbs and/or people and animals around? Which will it believe/act upon? Personally, I think THIS is the sort of thing we’re seeing as compare to a BSoD.

      • 0 avatar
        kurkosdr

        Complete freezes in Windows NT are always due to overheating or overclocked hardware, with the computer failing to go into thermal shutdown properly. A Fujitsu Siemens “controller” for a blood testing piece of hardware at a clinic a relative used to work for (non-critical to anything) would freeze “randomly”, so I had them open it and remove the dust it was packed with, no problems since then.

        • 0 avatar
          kurkosdr

          The thing was a beefy PC with Windows Vista btw.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I haven’t used Windows NT in decades. Currently using Windows 10 and still seeing it on occasion–as I said, two different machines so far this month.

          And no, they weren’t due to overheating but rather due to memory conflicts.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            I use Linux for my workstations and laptops. Never a problem. Use small linux devices for controllers as well. I also use microcontrollers with no OS in some applications and for critical stuff I’m moving to FPGAs.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I experienced a blue screen of death last week. Work-issued 2018 Lenovo Thinkpad running patched, employer-configured Windows 10 Enterprise. Happens to me maybe every couple of months.

      • 0 avatar
        kurkosdr

        Blue screens on Windows NT 6.0 or Windows NT 6.1 (aka Vista or later) are either bad hardware (and drivers) or bad third-party Antivirus (which often install drivers). Tell your boss to not buy Lenovo again, their laptops suck.

  • avatar
    Yankee

    So you’re telling me that Volkswagen is having multiple product glitches in a new product, correct? How is this newsworthy? Kind of business of usual for them, isn’t it? When I worked at a VW (and later Audi) dealer we asked if we could just tell customers that the check engine light is part of the interior illumination package, since it’s always on.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    Maybe VW hired Boeing’s MCAS coders.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    I think VW is overcompensating for their diesel missteps. All of this EV investment and prophecy is a nasty gamble. Just build some cute, fun, damn good cars and utilities (including a cool minivan) and win some hearts along the way. Dabble with hybrid/EV tech only as needed.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    EVs should be left to the established mfrs, not wannabe startups like VW.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      But if Tesla is the established EV manufacturer, keep in mind that if the model Y launches on time and without drama it will be the first Tesla to do so. Maybe VW will get the their third EV out on time too!

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        How good is Ford with their ICE launches? (They’ve had significantly more than three cracks at it.)

        [Farley says they have around 10 coming up, so I guess we’ll see if they improve.]

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          Not great of late. But they have launched cars on time and without Drama as has VW (The subject of the article, but you knew that), GM, FCA, FIAT, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and well, pretty much every other automaker currently producing cars at any volume. Tesla has yet to do that…hence my comment at SCE’s obviously sarcastic comment.

          But you knew all that you piece of $#!+ troll.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          Even with all of the recent BS at Ford, They do launch on time and seem to require far less rework than the 3 at launch and nobody had to stand up a tent to meet Explorer production. So what are you saying…Ford, Gm, etc. seem to, at their worst be able to launch a vehicle with less drama than Tesla at their best? I don’t recall this drama around the Leaf and Nissan is a cluster&^%$ of a company. Yet I bet if they launch a new vehicle it will make it to market on time even still as they have a history of doing so most of the time. Tesla has a history of not doing so…since you brought it up.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Sometimes a tent is exactly what’s called for:

            https://www.defense.gov/observe/photo-gallery/igphoto/2001177682/

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, VW and Ford doing great. Tesla? What an abject failure!

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I wonder if VW is going to regret doubling down on digital by giving the new Golf an all digital cockpit as well. Bring back knobs and buttons!

  • avatar
    Matt Posky

    Might be the same “software issues” that delayed the e-tron.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    Even the simplest things are complex nowadays. My 2019 BMW 5 Series has heated seats. Okay. However, they can be set to come on automatically at a driver-selected external temperature. Okay. However, they will only come on if the seat is occupied. Okay. However they will only come on if the seat is occupied AND the seatbelt is fastened. Lots of software sensor interfaces there.

    Another example? If a child seat is installed in the back seat of the car, it deactivates the rear inside door handle on that side of the car.

    Now add in this: “The ID.3 is VW’s first application of its MEB electric architecture and the software designed to make everything work…”

    VW just went looking for trouble with a new drive system on a new platform with a new software architecture in one package …and they found it.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I’m not surprised with these delays, especially when the new product is so different from their prior efforts. Don’t forget that even the ‘new’ Jeep Cherokee from FCA saw significant delays while the 9-speed automatic transmission had to be fine-tuned in the changeover from a friction clutch to a dog-tooth version due to very harsh shifts early on. Now those shifts are almost imperceptible. VW will get these issues worked out… but how soon is anybody’s guess.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Ok, I stand corrected about the BSoDs. I must be one lucky guy, I haven’t experienced them in a while.

    But I believe that my basic argument still applies: Developing a reliable complex software architecture, being used in thousands of different ways by thousands of different users, is a skill set that automotive companies have yet to master.

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