Volkswagen Says ID.3 Still Coming, Even If It Isn't Ready
Running a little behind in its electric vehicle program, Volkswagen plans to resume production of its battery-powered ID.3 hatchback this Thursday. This is part of its revised strategy aimed at helping the company endure the bleak outlook created by coronavirus countermeasures that upended the global economy.
Like most automakers, VW will be on the hook for sizable fines in Europe if it fails to improve fleet-wide emissions this year, and it’s now losing cash as factories remain shuttered and consumers hone their social distancing skills.
With the latter problem almost completely out of its grasp, Volkswagen is focusing on making sure the ID.3 lands on the market this summer — even if that means rushing it out the door in a less-than-ideal state. Back in February, it was reported that the model suffered from a glut of software issues (an oddly common issue with the brand’s pre-production EVs) that could force VW to delay the ID.3’s launch. That apparently won’t be an issue, as it’s just going to run with whatever code it has at the ready.
On Wednesday, a Volkswagen informed Automotive News that the converted Zwickau facility it now uses to build electric vehicles for the VW, Audi and Seat brands is a go for assembly. The site will resume production later this week so the ID.3 official debut can move ahead as planned.
“Our target is to deliver the 30,000 ID.3 first-edition pre-booked models to all customers at the same time,” a spokesperson explained.
“Vehicles built will be equipped with whatever version of the software suite is current at the corresponding time of their production and prior to their delivery to customers in summer will receive the latest version. Subsequent to the market launch the digital functions will then continue to be updated in regular increments in the following months.”
Based on the severity and frequency of February’s claimed software glitches, we’re curious to see how the first batch turns out. Thousands of those cars have already been built and are reportedly being held in storage while employees address technical issues. Worryingly, being manufactured without over-the-air updates seems to have been one of the problems, but our thoughts remain focused on how consumers will respond to this solution. Is this really how people are going to want to buy their cars moving forward?
Volkswagen is asking a lot by delivering a potentially broken product it plans on gradually remedying through months of remote updates. Tesla has shown some of the benefits of connected cars by issuing meaningful over-the-air overhauls that add features or improve performance. That said, Tesla has also shown how easily a corporation can use those same tools against consumers by charging for updates that never come (FSD) or digitally neutering cars on the secondhand market. VW’s willingness to use cutting-edge technologies to deliver an unfinished-sounding product seems wholly unnecessary and sets another lousy precedent for the industry.
Even if the ID.3’s launch isn’t a disaster, Volkswagen still expects customers to pay for the privilege of beta testing its latest model.
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