There was a shakeup at the very top of Volkswagen this week, with Volkswagen Group chairman Herbert Diess stripped of his role as chairman of the Volkswagen brand. Yesterday, we learned a little more why.
Part of it had to do, The Wall Street Journal reported, with delays in getting the ID.3 out the door and into customers. The ID.3, you’ll remember, is the first part of what Volkswagen plans will be a range of electric cars, to challenge Tesla but also to abide by strict new European Union emissions regulations and get ahead of where VW is betting the auto market is going.
It’s been in the works for years, and VW is getting close to the finish line–actually delivering the car to customers—but it’s already delayed deliveries once. The WSJ reported Wednesday that the ID.3 had been delayed a second time. Some versions will now be delivered in September, with cloud-connected versions not out until the end of the year. It was originally supposed to launch in Europe sometime this summer.
The problems are the same as they were when we first got wind in February that something might be amiss: The car’s software, which Volkswagen still hasn’t completely figured out despite throwing likely billions of dollars into electric car development.
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From the WSJ:
The ID.3’s internet connection is meant to allow owners to update the car’s systems wirelessly without having to make a pit stop at a dealership. Tesla already does this, but Volkswagen’s new army of software engineers has so far failed to establish a robust link between the car and the company’s cloud-based applications that it has been developing with Microsoft Corp.
There was also, of course, the pandemic, though software seems like one area of work that could’ve been continued at home.
“The last few months working under the difficult conditions of the pandemic have been a big challenge for the entire ID.3 team. That makes the imminent market launch of the ID.3 all the more important,” said Thomas Ulbrich, board member of the Volkswagen brand in charge of electric vehicle development, in a statement.
Reminder: the ID.3 is supposed to be basically the next Beetle, a compact to be here for years, maybe decades to come. It’s definitely more important to VW to stick the landing than it is to rush out shoddy product, as Tesla has been accused of in the past; for a company like Volkswagen, that isn’t really an option.