Hybrids & Electrics

“Massive” Software Issues Delay VW ID3 Indefinitely

VW can’t pull it’s all-new ID 3 electric vehicle together in time for its summer release in Europe. It may have to push off the launch date because of “massive” ID3 software issues. The problems are said to involve the basic architecture of the ID3’s software according to VW engineers speaking to Germany’s Manager Magazin. They say it was developed “too hastily” and that many elements of the system can’t communicate with each other. 

Hundreds of test drivers are experiencing up to 300 or more errors popping up in a single day of driving. There are reported to be 10,000 technicians working on the problem. Some are estimating it will take a year or more to solve all of the issues. 

The ID3 would underpin not only VWs but Audi, Skoda, and Seat models

ID3 | Volkswagen
ID3 | Volkswagen

The ID3 is Volkswagen’s first mass-produced EV based on its MEB platform. It was to begin a new era at VW with 27 vehicles planned for the platform. Every brand under the VW umbrella from Audi, Skoda and Seat would have models based around the MEB. 

The US was not part of the ID3’s plans but we were planning to get the slightly larger ID4 crossover along with China sometime this year. We don’t know whether the problems facing the ID3 are found with the ID4 as well? 

Remedial software fixes are to be done manually

ID3 | Volkswagen
ID3 | Volkswagen

There have been a lot of platitudes from VW about the ID3 hatchback. VW CEO Herbert Diess proclaimed it would take “electric mobility from niche to mainstream.” When news of software problems was first discovered the plan was to produce the ID3 without a complete software suite. Engineers would then do remedial fixes on each and every car manually. 

Since ID3 production already began in November we don’t know how many of them will need remedial software work before they can be delivered. Further field testing at the Zwickau, Germany, facility where the ID3 is manufactured has revealed more problems. It’s looking more like deliveries won’t begin until 2021. 

There are other underlying issues with further ID3 delays

ID3 | Volkswagen
ID3 | Volkswagen

As much of a concern as the delay may be there is an even larger underlying problem if production is delayed. Harsh new European fleet emissions requirements took effect January 1. The ID3 was an integral part of meeting those caps. Excessive penalties for those companies not meeting the standards could result in huge fines. Obviously, the ID3 was meant to offset some of the large internal combustion vehicles produced by VW and its affiliates. 

A big marketing and advertising push have already begun to spotlight the ID3 and its EV architecture. Delaying its release, which is inevitable at this point, confounds those efforts as well. Reservations were opened up in May 2019 for the ID3. VW said 10,000 orders were received on that first day. The second wave of 10,000 orders was received by the end of May and the third group of 10,000 came in by September 2019. 

At the rate that VW revealed there could be 40,000-50,000 orders already placed for the ID3. The delay could start affecting overall confidence in VW’s ability to engineer an EV making any delays critical.