German carmaker Volkswagen has forged a new joint venture (JV) called Neocx with vehicle software company Tracetronic to make it better equipped for the new age of software-based mobility.
With the ID.3 launch delayed in 2020 due to software issues resulting in Volkswagen missing its 2020 CO2 emissions limit and consequently being fined more than one million Euros, it wants to avoid similar issues again.
Additionally, it has Tesla to contend with. While Volkswagen has decades of auto manufacturing expertise under its belt, the Californian upstart is fundamentally a tech company both in market value and in its approach to mobility, giving it a huge advantage over legacy carmakers.
The new JV, which forms part of VW’s “Accelerate” strategy, will see the two companies collaborate on software testing, integration and over-the-air updates with the ultimate goal to transform the German auto giant into a software-oriented mobility company, which also builds cars.
“With Accelerate, we have set ourselves the goal of evolving the car into a software-based product,” said Thomas Ulbrich, board member for technical development in a statement.
“The safe and efficient integration of software into our vehicles is therefore a critical competitive factor for Volkswagen. Our new joint venture, neocx, is a cornerstone in strengthening our expertise in this area so we can offer our customers a first-class digital driving experience.”
The joint venture is intended to help VW with a transformation from a car company, which also develops software, to a software-oriented mobility company, which also builds cars.
The diagram below demonstrates how Neocx plans to put this in action: Engineers from the VW Group and its suppliers can use the virtual test factory in Dresden to automatically test their latest program packages for sensors, displays, etc. in interaction in a simulated car and finally in the overall software package of the real target car to be continuously integrated.
Therefore, “Neocx” in Dresden and Wolfsburg is to build a high-performance analysis platform from test stands, computer simulations and computer clouds. VW and its suppliers can then test new programs automatically and in some cases with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).
This can include, for example, dozens of individual programs for radar sensors, environment recognition, engine control and cockpit displays, which are ultimately to be merged into a new driver assistance system. At the same time, the developers simulate the reactions of their new program sections to accidents and other problems on this common platform.
The system aims to ensure that successfully tested new software functions are automatically and wirelessly installed on the correct cars.
With this, VW wants to make up for the lead of the electric car pioneer “Tesla”, where such “updates over the air” have long been common.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.