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Volkswagen enters the OTA era

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt


Starting this summer, Volkswagen plans to regularly roll out OTA software updates to the models in its ID. electric family. The company thus claims to be the first volume manufacturer to make this technology widely available to customers. In doing so, the carmaker does not just want to iron out software bugs and achieve gradual improvements. No, it is going a big step further: with the software updates, the company is creating the conditions for completely new business models. Volkswagen even plans to establish a fixed update rhythm, the vehicle software is to be updated every twelve weeks.

The prelude is the ID.3: the latest software version “ID.Software 2.3” is to be delivered to customers of VW’s so-called “First Movers Club” via mobile data transfer in July 2021. The update contains adjustments and improvements to operation, performance and comfort. Updates for all ID.3, ID.4 and ID.4 GTX3 customers will follow successively.

The first update for the ID. models first offers a series of functional improvements. Among other things, it includes enhanced functionalities of the ID. Light, optimised environment recognition and dynamic high beam control, improved operability and design adjustments to the infotainment system as well as general performance and stability improvements to the software.

The updates are transferred via mobile data transfer directly to the central computers (In Car Application Server, ICAS for short) of the vehicles. Based on VW’s MEB platform, these take over functions that were distributed among a multitude of control units in earlier vehicle generations. The new electronic architecture is not only more powerful, but also simplifies the exchange of data and functions between the systems in the vehicle. As a result, up to 35 control unit functions can be accessed and updated via the over-the-air updates.

With OTA Updates, Volkswagen wants to create the conditions for new business models, as the company has laid out in its ACCELERATE strategy. In future, when buying a vehicle, customers will no longer have to decide which functionalities their car should have – and which configuration is conducive to the highest possible resale value. This is because the hardware will be largely standardised. In future, additional functions and innovative technologies can be added via software updates. In this way, the manufacturer not only wants to make its vehicle models more attractive for smartphone-savvy customer generations, but also tap into aftersales revenue streams.

“Vehicles that always have the latest software on board and provide an excellent digital customer experience are of enormous importance for the future success of the Volkswagen brand,” says Chief Development Officer Thomas Ulbrich. “That’s why we have set up the agile project unit ID. Digital project unit. This enables us to quickly gather customer feedback and respond flexibly to customer needs.”

The powerhouse and centre of gravity for Volkswagen’s digitalisation is the closely meshed collaboration between ID. Digital and Cariad, the Volkswagen Group’s car software organisation. This interaction ensures great software know-how. In this way, the Volkswagen brand is to benefit from the clout of the group. Volkswagen’s medium-term goal is to establish OTA updates as a central functionality of the digital, connected car, says Cariad CEO Dirk Hilgenberg.

Related articles:

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“Open systems have stronger assertiveness than closed ones”

Fixing software errors before they happen

BMW starts largest OTA software update to date

Volkswagen plans own chip development

 


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