In May 2022, the boss of the Volkswagen group, Herbert Diess, explained to the inhabitants of Wolfsburg (Lower Saxony) that, for a firm like the one he then headed, the real challenge to be met was not the transition to engines. electric, but the software transformation that necessarily had to accompany it.
🗨️ Chance and challenge: “The development of own software expertise is the biggest switch that the automotive industry has to make – much bigger than the transition to e-mobility, our CEO @Herbert_Diess says in the live-dialogue with the citizens of #Wolfsburg. pic.twitter.com/3lODwdOUiW
— Volkswagen Group (@VWGroup) May 2, 2022
His management, described as brutal, was nevertheless not the only one involved in this sidelining: for number of observersit’s failure of this admirer of Elon Musk to make Volkswagen a great software powerhouse, a tech firm, which cost him his job.
Because as Bloomberg explains in particular, the bugs suffered by the firm’s first electric vehicles place it far behind its obvious competitor Tesla in the field and create legions of disgruntled users.
Systems constantly crash, until they brick and become totally useless. The screens that dot the German’s modern cars are going crazy. The infotainment systems made available are not finished.
Necessary for vehicles, sometimes essential in terms of security, software updates cannot be done remotely as should be the case, but oblige their owners to go through the garage and leave their gear there for a long time.
Worse, the IDs start to brake suddenly by poorly recognizing a road sign, which pushes buyers of vehicles equipped with the option to deactivate it altogether.
“It’s a disease that spreads, pings with Bloomberg Jake Fisher, boss of the highly influential Consumer Reports car tester. I’m talking about systems that, when you know how to use them, require going through several maneuvers when everything was done with a single button before, and that’s shameful. It’s going the wrong way and it makes the cars worse.”
«Terrible»says the owner of an ID.4 with the American site about the software system of his machine, which he nevertheless describes as mechanically successful. “Fortunately, there is Apple CarPlay. Without that, sincerely, I would sell the car to take a Tesla.
Another owner of ID.4 explains that the promise when he acquired his vehicle was a software update every three months, a rate largely exceeded by Tesla, very reactive in the field. In twenty months, there have only been two: that’s not much for machines which, unlike the finished products of the past, are supposed to progress throughout their life.
A driver of VTC complains about the bad marks left by her customers, to whom she must regularly ask to look for the route on their own smartphone, the GPS of her ID.4 often failing.
However, to accompany the very big electric ambitions of the Volkswagen groupthemselves driven by the European decision to ban new combustion engines from 2035colossal means have been put on the table.
A large-scale IT development unit was created in 2016, and renamed Cariad in March 2021. “Herbert Diess’ plan to beat Tesla hinged on replacing the calloused hands of workers with the delicate fingers of 10,000 computer engineers, which would turn Volkswagen into a tech firm”writes Bloomberg.
The failure is complete and, as The Register explains, the atmosphere within the unit headed by Herbert Diess is deplorable. An internal report commissioned from McKinsey described an inefficient decision-making structure, with costs constantly exploding.
In addition to the bugs already described, which notably plagued the launch of the ID line, Cariad’s inability to provide quality software pushes the group to shift important models; the Porsche Macan, the Artemis line from Audi, the first electric Bentley.
Oliver Blume will therefore have a lot to do in the coming months and years if he wants Volkswagen to catch up with the modern competition – including the young Chinese shooters, which many experts believe are ahead in terms of electricity and software. “It is normal that building a business is an expensive process, he explained on the official website of the German manufacturer. We will go through everything with an open mind, and quickly implement a plan.”
Software is the key to the future
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 24, 2022
As for Elon Musk, it was as usual on Twitter that he reacted to the setbacks of Herbert Diess: “Software is the key to the future”, he said when asked to react to the sidelining of the German. For now, the future does not seem to belong to Volkswagen.