VW Group Hands Software Development Over to Audi

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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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  • Gedrven Gedrven on Jul 15, 2020

    A company with some of the most unnecessarily complicated and unfathomable engineering, with no regard for real-world maintainability, handing engineering over to their subsidiary who's even worse? What could possibly go wrong? Cars should not be designed by people whose entire professional education is based on technology that, in the event of failure, can simply be restarted without consequence.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Jul 15, 2020

    If front wheels are moving and rear wheels aren't and steering wheel is stationary, turn on emission control.

  • FreedMike This article fails to mention that Toyota is also investing heavily in solid state battery tech - which would solve a lot of inherent EV problems - and plans to deploy it soon. https://insideevs.com/news/598046/toyota-global-leader-solid-state-batery-patents/Of course, Toyota being Toyota, it will use the tech in hybrids first, which is smart - that will give them the chance to iron out the wrinkles, so to speak. But having said that, I’m with Toyota here - I’m not sold on an all EV future happening anytime soon. But clearly the market share for these vehicles has nowhere to go but up; how far up depends mainly on charging availability. And whether Toyota’s competitors are all in is debatable. Plenty of bet-hedging is going on among makers in the North American market.
  • Jeff S I am not against EVs but I completely understand Toyota's position. As for Greenpeace putting Toyota at the bottom of their environmental list is more drama. A good hybrid uses less gas, is cleaner than most other ICE, and is more affordable than most EVs. Prius has proven longevity and low maintenance cost. Having had a hybrid Maverick since April and averaging 40 to 50 mpg in city driving it has been smooth driving and very economical. Ford also has very good hybrids and some of the earlier Escapes are still going strong at 300k miles. The only thing I would have liked in my hybrid Maverick would be a plug in but it didn't come with it. If Toyota made a plug in hybrid compact pickup like the Maverick it would sell well. I would consider an EV in the future but price, battery technology, and infrastructure has to advance and improve. I don't buy a vehicle based on the recommendation of Greenpeace, as a status symbol, or peer pressure. I buy a vehicle on what best needs my needs and that I actually like.
  • Mobes Kind of a weird thing that probably only bothers me, but when you see someone driving a car with ball joints clearly about to fail. I really don't want to be around a car with massive negative camber that's not intentional.
  • Jeff S How reliable are Audi? Seems the Mazda, CRV, and Rav4 in the higher trim would not only be a better value but would be more reliable in the long term. Interior wise and the overall package the Mazda would be the best choice.
  • Pickles69 They have a point. All things (or engines/propulsion) to all people. Yet, when the analogy of being, “a department store,” of options is used, I shudder. Department stores are failing faster than any other retail. Just something to chew on.