In a wide-ranging AMA on Reddit today, VW CEO Herbert Diess provided answers to a ton of questions from the Reddit community, some of which were news to us. Importantly, he clarified Volkswagen’s position on Autonomy and ID.4 charging update timelines while waxing eloquent on a low-price VW EV and everyone’s favorite, the Microbus.
On Lidar, Diess surprisingly took a different tack than his friend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who is adamant that Robotaxis can be made from only vision systems. Tesla’s CEO said he would be shocked if Tesla does not achieve Full Self-Driving that is safer than human drivers this year (five years ahead of everyone else).
Diess remarked that Lidar, or more specifically redundant perception, was integral to getting to Level 3 autonomy, saying:
Lidar technology is still expensive, but todays the only way to offer redundant perception to the 360 camera systems which are a must. Safety is really crucial in autonomous driving. For level 3 driving you need redundant perception.
Later on he clarified that Level 3 autonomy “requires” redundant Lidar perception. Volkswagen has partnered with MobileEye for its Lidar systems, which have been dropping in price.
Yes, definitely level 3 requires redundant Lidar perception.
As for the when, Diess was a little less specific than Tesla’s “this year” timespan.
autonomous driving is the biggest gamechanger for the automotive industry. we will be able to drive our customers safe and comfortably. This will be a gradual process from taking over responsibility on open highways in good weather conditions getting to more complex environments and weather situations worldwide. So this will be a long process of competition for a long period to come. We are building up competencies to become a serious competitor in this race.
On software in general, Volkswagen has been making huge investments.
We are building up capabilities to become self sufficient in car software, through organic growth, major acquisitions, partnerships to build up own IP and recruiting tech talents. Last year we hired around 1000 software engineers. To acquire IP we started a partnership with Bosch. To advance our image recognition capabilities we acquired the Hella Aglaia team. More to come. Currently we are investing 2 billion for software per year & CARIAD is already delivering the software updates over the air, preparing new launches and features together with our brands.
On the simplification of multiple brands and vehicle platforms to become more like Tesla, Diess replied:
Volkswagen will remain a multi brand mobility company working worldwide and being present in many segments. To reduce complexity we are focusing on platforms, even more in the future. One hardware platform SSP, unified battery cells & one shared software stack with CARIAD will ensure that we leverage our economies of scale fully. Being present in volume and premium markets and addressing many of our different customer preferences. But yes, in some segments we are still too complex in our product offering. We are making good progress in reducing complexity. Already with our MEB platform 70 percent of the car value is shared between Audi, Skoda, Cupra and Volkswagen.
The €20k VW ID.1 or ID.2 Electric car?
What the world needs right now is a low-cost EV, and Diess has confirmed that VW is working on something like the ID.Life concept we saw at IAA last year.
[Redditor]: When will we see a EV sedan that has a 300 mile range for under $25k?
[Diess]: price is a challenge. We are working on electric cars around 20k euros for entry segments.
Plug and Charge and Bi-directional charging update for Volkswagen ID.4
While the VW ID.4 has been given high marks for its hardware, owners are growing impatient about the software updates promised. One particular promised update, Plug and Charge with Bidirectional charging, has been a sore spot with vague promises for owners since last year. Now we learn VW is targeting summer for that update.
We will have a major OTA update for the ID.4 coming this summer, which will add features like Plug&Charge and Auto Hold, as well as a higher capacity onboard charge capability
And perhaps more interestingly, the update will come out in Vehicle to Home (V2H) form, allowing customers to do things like power their appliances from the car – or power the whole house in a blackout. It will be interesting to see the output and how it compares to the Hyundai E-GMP platform output of 2-4kW.
Bidirectional charging will be available this year for all ID. Models with 77 kWh battery, also via OTA update. In the beginning we will only offer Vehicle-to-home. This means you can run your dishwasher with electricity from abroad 😉
Diess later clarified this would be on all ID.4 77kWh vehicles sold:
Yes, we will offer Plug & Charge on MY23 ID.4s and on earlier cars with an OTA update. Just tested it together with Elke (https://www.linkedin.com/in/elke-temme/) – really convenient, high time for introduction.
Volkswagon pickup? Diess thinks that’s a good idea.
Diess played innocent when the idea of a Volkswagen Pickup for the USA was proffered.
[Redditer] Hello Herbert, we like the VW designs a lot. My question is, will there be an electric pickup truck like the ford f150 lightning for the usa?
[Diess] Good idea!
VW already makes ICE pickups and sells them outside the United States, so the company isn’t a total newbie when it comes to the form factor. But a new entrant into the US electric pickup market would be good for all involved, especially if they are made in Chattanooga.
Diess on the future
The VW CEO was asked what the future held for VW and the car industry, specifically 25 years from now.
25 years are very difficult to predict. Advancements in technology are coming fast. My guess: All cars will be able to drive autonomously, very safe, probably no accidents at all anymore. Emission free, very comfortable – cars will take you where you want to go and when you want to go. Still there will be precious brands for different customer preferences, still cars will be the most important means of transport. But totally safe, convenient and sustainable.
It is hard not to like an automotive CEO who does an AMA answering questions from customers and fans genuinely – spelling and grammar mistakes included. (Cut him some slack!)
As for self-driving, Diess has a steep learning curve but seems to have a realistic expectation of what VW can accomplish. The CEO continues to impress us with his clear vision of the EV/Autonomous future. In the short term however, he needs to get those ID.4 updates out the door.
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