VW hopes new software will banish accidents by 2050

Europe

BERLIN — Volkswagen will launch a new software operating system this year that it hopes will make accidents involving its cars a thing of the past by 2050, the company said on Thursday.

Next-generation cars will be equipped with software, sensors and processors that enable vehicles to anticipate and avoid accidents, and to keep learning new reflexes, the brand’s strategy chief, Michael Jost, said in Berlin.

“We want to have no more accidents by 2050,” he said.

The new software-based vehicle operating system, which is being launched with VW’s new ID3 electric car, will be continually updated as software algorithms improve, Jost said.

“How quickly can data and algorithms improve? Our customers should benefit from deep learning every week, and every day. We are moving from being a device company to being a software company,” he said.

VW has reportedly struggled with big software problems with the ID3 compact electric car, according to reports, with some media reporting that the glitches may force VW to abandon the EV’s planned sales launch in summer.

VW has said that the timeline for the ID3 has not changed.

First-generation cars are still being tweaked, said Thomas Ulbrich, the VW brand’s board member responsible for electromobility.

“We are not yet at 100 percent,” Ulbrich said about the status of the ID3’s software development. “It is normal that there are still technical tasks to be done shortly before market launch.”

The ID3 will cost from 24,000 euros ($27,000), once green car tax breaks and incentives are included, when it goes on sale in Germany.

That will put it on a par with VW’s combustion-engine vehicles, and forms part of a big expansion by the company in electric cars.

The VW brand expects to build 1.5 million electric cars by 2025.  

Volkswagen Group, whose brands also include Porsche, Audi, Skoda, Bentley and Bugatti, will launch 75 electric cars by 2029 and be capable of building 26 million vehicles.

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