German carmaker Volkswagen is stepping up in efforts to be as digitally savvy as EV maker Tesla by introducing over-the-air software updates.
As of immediately, the ID.3, ID.4 and ID.4 GTX will all be able to receive new updates to the vehicle’s software, and a new version is all ready to rollout says the carmaker.
Tesla, which sells the lion’s share of electric cars on the global stage, has pioneered over-the-air (OTA) updates to its fleet of electric cars which capitalises on the electronic nature of its drivetrain to optimize the driving experience via tweaks to its software stack.
Volkswagen recognises that to compete with Tesla, it must embrace a future where software plays a more important role in vehicle design.
Having experienced delays with the launch of its ID.3 in Europe in 2020 resulting in having to pay fines for exceeding regulated CO2 emissions limits, it formed a joint venture called “Neocx” in August with software company Tracetronic.
Volkswagen did not reference the joint venture in its latest release, but instead said the OTA capabilities have been developed with its software company Cariad.
It also revealed that the first software update will see ID electric car owners benefit from “optimised surroundings recognition, more intuitive operability of the infotainment system, and other new features.”
“Full availability of our Over-the-Air Updates underlines the innovative capacity of Volkswagen and forms the basis for a completely new, digital customer experience,” says Volkswagen CEO Ralf Brandstätter in a statement.
“At the same time, we are laying the foundation for new digital business models and hitting a key milestone in our Accelerate strategy.”
Other features include an update to the light strip at the bottom of the window screen that allows the car to “communicate” with the driver via pulses of light. According to the company, it will now give the driver “intuitive” support to encourage more energy-efficient driving as well as information about how far the car is from a vehicle on front.
The new update will also improve image processing by the car’s cameras, which will now recognise motorcycles and other road users more promptly, as well as better high beam control when driving at night.
Volkswagen says it has also taken on board feedback from owners of the first IDs and improved the interface of the central touchscreen display to make it more intuitive (we can’t help but remember automotive engineer Sandy Munro’s reaction to the original ID4. interface which lead him to intone “Tesla has no need to worry“).
Meanwhile, Volkswagen is also taking steps towards making its own batteries.
The German carmaker has opened a new “state-of-the-art” battery lab in Salzgitter and invested 70 million Euros ($A112 million) into expanding its battery research efforts.
The carmaker says it is testing a call that can charge from 5 to 80% within 12 minutes. By 2025 it plans to make 40GWh worth of batteries from a production line in Salzgitter, and by 2030 it plans to partner strategically to produce 240gWh a year.
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.