Volkswagen Car.Software Team Gets More Physical Space

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We’ve written about Volkswagen’s newfound focus on software — and struggles with that — several times recently. The short summary is:

Volkswagen is trying to reinvent itself as a software-centered company. Software is hard.

I think that no matter which side of Volkswagen Group you’re on — the bullish side or the bearish side — you agree that Volkswagen is truly intent on improving its in-house software business by an order of magnitude, but the challenge has been harder than anticipated already and there’s a lot of skepticism about its ability to achieve this. Nonetheless, the work moves on.

The latest news on this side of things is not that interesting or noteworthy, but since Car.Software is probably the most important part of Volkswagen Group and critical to whether its future is bright or extremely dingy, any little tidbit about it seems worth publishing. The news this week is that:

“Volkswagen Infotainment GmbH is planning a new development center at the Bochum technology campus Mark 51°7. The subsidiary of Volkswagen AG specializing in software development and vehicle connectivity intends to group its specialists together at a central facility. The new building is to lay the foundation for further personnel growth at the Bochum location. In the presence of the Mayor of the City of Bochum, Thomas Eiskirch, and the Chief Financial Officer of the Car.Software organization in the Volkswagen Group, Frank Rösler, the Managing Directors of Volkswagen Infotainment, Bernhard Krausse and Tobias Nadjib, announced the decision on the project today. Construction is already to start in the fall of 2020.”

“From left to right: Frank Rösler, Chief Financial Officer of the Car.Software organization in the Volkswagen Group; Bernhard Krausse, Managing Director and Spokesman of Volkswagen Infotainment; Tobias Nadjib, Managing Director of Volkswagen Infotainment; Thomas Eiskirch, Mayor of the City of Bochum.”

Some of the things Volkswagen Infotainment GmbH currently handles are “a highly integrated modem unit (online connectivity unit, OCU) to connect the car to the Internet as well as providing various services such as weather maps, optimized traffic guidance and remote control of certain vehicle functions via a smart phone app.”

As I wrote in March, however, Volkswagen currently develops ~10% of its own software but wants to evolve to developing 60% or more of it by 2025, and that includes integrating it much more. Tesla has a extremely integrated software, and thus is able to do much more with it while also rapidly adjusting and adding to it. In the car of a traditional automaker, you have dozens of components each with their own rather unintegrated software plugging into the car and thus offering limited, slow-to-evolve, and unimpressive features. Don’t believe me? Check out this quote from Christian Senger, member of the Brand Board of Management of Volkswagen and also the person responsible for Digital Car & Services: “up to 70 control units operating with software from 200 different suppliers must be networked in vehicles of the Volkswagen brand.”

Volkswagen Group wants to have 5,000 software experts working to provide cutting-edge, intelligent, well integrated features of the car by 2025. The problem some have highlighted is that more people doesn’t always equal better software, and too many people working on this side of the business could be more detrimental than not. It’s more important to have a relatively small team of superb software experts, according to such critics. We’ll see how things evolve in the Car.Software or VW.OS side of the corporation in coming years.

“We will be massively strengthening our software competences,” says Frank Rösler, Chief Financial Officer of the Car.Software organization within the Volkswagen Group. “The key will be our Car.Software organization, which is developing a standardized, high-performance software platform for all Group brands and markets. This way, we intend to combine leading-edge technology with the scale potential of a global automotive group.”

It’s unclear how much this software work is meant to incorporate autonomous driving development, new features, or over-the-air software updates, but all of these are part of the focus of the newfound business arm. The value of an automaker from 2020 onward seems to be based on how much of a competitive edge it has in software, since cars are increasingly being seen as computers on wheels, with many of the financial rewards of this expected to be around the proverbial corner.

For more on Volkswagen’s software evolution and aims, I recommend these 2020 articles:

All images courtesy Volkswagen AG.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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