VW Group Hands Software Development Over to Audi
Volkswagen Group plans to transfer software development leadership to its Audi division following an embarrassingly high number of technical glitches on some of its upcoming products.
With the industry committed to making sure tomorrow’s cars more closely resemble today’s phones, some automakers have decided to do the brunt of their coding in-house. VW decided to increase the share of its software it’s responsible for — targeting 60 percent of all the code that goes into its products by 2025 — but problems cropped up en route to its destination.
Reports surfaced in 2019 that the company was having serious issues with its software. This delayed Audi EVs (though battery supply shortages were also claimed) before doing the same for Volkswagen’s ID.3 electric. The brand ultimately decided to launch that model lacking some functions with the promise that they’d be fixed later. But then the software headaches started affecting the Mk8 Golf, forcing the manufacturer to temporarily halt deliveries.
As everyone wondered exactly how the hell this could happen, staff noted that VW’s aggressive technological push forced it to rush some of the new software. It’s also encountered issues in procuring enough coders to turn things around in a timely manner after problems revealed themselves. “This is no longer a laugh,” an anonymous staffer told Süddeutsche Zeitung in March. “The [ID.3] is far from ready for the market.”
The EV will now ship in September with incomplete software, though introductory “limited editions” have already begun delivery. Regardless of which version customers purchased, VW has said neither will have all their features activated until later this year.
Depending on who you ask, Volkswagen Group’s software problems are either a horrible nightmare that runs the risk of killing the company or a manageable hiccup that will only slow the launch of a handful of vehicles. We’re inclined to believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle. The company certainly has demonstrated that there’s an issue, though we can’t say it’s untenable until we see how long it takes to fix the ID.3 and Golf.
Hysterically, Group CEO Herbert Diess claimed VW’s software would help it compete against Tesla in the world of electric vehicles during the most recent Frankfurt Motor Show.
“In the long run, I think we might have a bit of an advantage because of scale. On the hardware side, there is probably not so big a difference because they are are also have a dedicated electric platform and they’re quite big already for an EV manufacturer,” he said. “But when it comes to the next big thing, which is software, Tesla is strong in software — but software really is a volume game. If you do software, you have to use ten million devices, not one million.”
That’s to become largely Audi’s concern moving forward.
“The center of gravity for software development will move from Wolfsburg to Ingolstadt,” Diess said at a virtual conference hosted by PwC in Germany, per Reuters.
The company is also rumored to replace Christian Senger, an ex-BMW manager who currently runs VW’s new Car.Software unit. Senger was brought in to help the company spruce up its corporate image after nefarious software drove the 2015 emissions scandal, and is believed to be taking serious flak at present.
Maybe the company should bring those Dieselgate coders back in. Sure, they may have broken the law by intentionally tricking regulators, but their illegal software worked as intended.
[Image: Volkswagen Group]
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