There have been quite a number of Volkswagen subsidiaries that must push back release dates for their new EVs until 2027. Audi, Porsche, and Bentley all must reset introductions of key EVs. The culprit is software technology by VW subsidiary Cariad is not ready for prime time. While VW CEO Herbert Diess last month said it will overtake Tesla by 2024, those dreams look highly dubious now.
Why is VW having so much trouble with software development?
While companies like Volkswagen have decades of manufacturing know-how, that doesn’t necessarily translate into instant EV dominance. At least, not with the necessary software to back it up. And the problems encountered at Cariad are extreme enough to push back some EV introductions by three years.
The Artemis Project is Audi’s platform for developing numerous EVs, including its flagship Landjet, due in 2024. Well, it was due then. Now, 2027 is the new launch date, according to Automobilwoche. Touted as having Level 4 autonomous capabilities, Cariad’s autonomous technology development is far behind.
Now, Audi is looking at an interim EV it is internally calling Landyacht. It would debut in 2025. But originally, it was supposed to debut in 2021, with upgraded software currently in Audi’s electric entries. But Porsche and Bentley are seeing similar issues with future vehicle launches.
What about Porsche and Bentley EVs?
Porsche’s New Macan was to launch before Audi’s Q6 e-Tron, originally due around this time next year. A Porsche insider told Automobilwoche, “The hardware is great, but the software is still missing.” That is now a common response to new EV development. As for Bentley, its mandate to be all-electric by 2030 looks impossible.
Hedging its bets, Volkswagen early this year announced a new partnership with Bosch for software to help it bridge the gap caused by Cariad. To save face, VW says that Bosch will only be developing software for Level 3 automation. According to Autoevolution, VW expects new plans from Cariad going forward.
This isn’t the first software issue plaguing Volkswagen. Its first EV, the ID.3, had a series of software problems, starting even before they left the factory. VW built unfinished ID.3 sedans and then stockpiled them until the latent software could be installed. The first completed cars began going to buyers in September 2020.
Problems with the ID.3 software were widespread
In-car cameras going dark, navigation bugs, keyless entry problems, pop-ups telling the driver to go to a dealer, these were just a smattering of issues early ID.3 owners faced. VW told reporters that buyers were told they could wait for software updates coming in January 2021, but chose to take deliveries sooner.
So we can assume that these early ID.3 Volkswagen’s were using beta software. To its credit, VW offered free charging, free winter tires, and no payments for three months to soften the issues owners found. And many owners were finding them.
Artificial intelligence isn’t the same as building a better engine, and that’s the hurdle legacy carmakers face. In the meantime, Tesla marches on. Remember, it never said it was an automobile manufacturer. Steeped in Silicon Valley software development, it always said it was a software company making cars. VW is finding out that this distinction is more prescient than it could have imagined.