Behind ID.3 delayed delivery: Volkswagen resumes Tesla's "Long March"

Even though the style has always been strict and punctual, Volkswagen's attitude in the delivery of the new car ID.3 is comparable to the "jump ticket king" Musk.

As the first pure electric model of Volkswagen's MEB platform, ID.3 started production of the first batch production version in November 2019, and was originally scheduled to be delivered in Europe in June this year. However, at an event in early January, Volkswagen announced that it would delay the delivery of ID.3 until August.

The news from the German media is even more "outrageous", saying that ID.3 may be delayed for up to one year. The core reason is that there are a large number of problems with Volkswagen software. Efforts to resolve. "But the public, especially the group's CEO Disi firmly denied this:" one nonsense. "

However, he also frankly stated at the Volkswagen Group's annual meeting not long ago: "Fixing software instability is still a challenge." This may also be a strong proof of "software causing ID .3 delayed delivery".

This may be under the impact of smart car companies represented by Tesla. Volkswagen has to think about changes- build an electric modular production platform, create a new electronic and electrical architecture E3, and self-developed the underlying operating system vw.OS to achieve the entire system. Car OTA. But for a century-old traditional car company, transformation is not a simple matter.

Build a real smart car

Ten years ago, building an excellent engine was the core technical barrier of various auto companies. However, with the onset of intelligent waves, the status of hardware has gradually declined in the automotive industry. Now, whether to build a "smart car" has become the direction of everyone's efforts.

What kind of car can be called a smart car? When a car can collect the user's usage data during the driving process through various sensors, upload it to the cloud for storage analysis, and then distribute the data to itself and other vehicles from the cloud, the car has intelligence Attributes. At this time, the meaning of the car is not limited to vehicles, but more like a "smart terminal" with four wheels.

Therefore, whether the software on the vehicle can be updated and iterated in a timely manner has become the key to building a smart car. Just like the smartphones that are indispensable in our lives, the software of the car also needs to be constantly upgraded to get a better experience. Instead of just like a traditional car, it will only depreciate over time.

The foundation of all this lies in the updating of the electrical and electronic architecture. "Creating a new set of electronic and electrical architecture is the basic capability of software-defined cars." Liu Jianhao, the head of 360 Intelligent Networked Vehicle Safety Business Unit, told Yiou Automobile. "On this basis, vehicles can achieve autonomous driving and use software. Adjusting vehicle functions, distributing and outputting vehicle power on new energy vehicles, and so on. "This is also a problem that Volkswagen urgently needs to solve.

Generally speaking, the electronic and electrical architecture includes all hardware, software, sensors, actuators, and electronic and electrical distribution systems on the vehicle. These components are designed to achieve the vehicle configuration and function, as well as the distribution of computing, power, and energy. The traditional electronic and electrical architecture is distributed, and the vehicle functions are controlled by different ECUs (single electronic control unit). Each car is usually distributed with hundreds of ECUs, which are only responsible for the established functions, and cannot exchange information with other parts and share computing power.

"In this mode, the vehicle OTA needs to upgrade multiple 'black boxes'. The bus speed of each box is different, and there are considerable risks in the process of upgrading. In addition, because of non-self-development, each black box The suppliers are different, and the synergy between the various suppliers is even more time consuming, "said Rui Yanan, president of Alabi, explaining to the chief travel officer. As a result, the current OTA functions of traditional car companies are mostly concentrated in the infotainment system, which cannot bring users more new experiences. "The ability to add new features after OTA and make old features better is the core of user attention." Rui Yanan said.

On the other hand, in recent years, the number of recalled cars due to malfunctions of ECU software in cars has continued to rise, reaching millions. The high cost of offline recalls has also become an important force to promote the transformation of traditional car companies.

Looking back at today's Tesla, its fastest software update frequency is one to two times a week, which not only continues to improve vehicle performance, but also pushes new features such as "sentinel mode" and "pet mode" for users. For users of the brand, this car is more like a constantly changing “big toy” that has always been attractive to it. In 2019, Tesla became the world's highest-selling new energy vehicle company with sales of over 360,000 vehicles.

From "looking down" to "unintelligible" and finally "not catching up", the thinking of traditional car companies has to start to change. The most radical of these is the Volkswagen Group.

The pain of elephant turning

According to the plan, Volkswagen will create a new electronic and electrical architecture E3, reducing more than 70 ECUs into 3-5 core high-performance on-board computing platforms (HPCs), which will be under the unified control of the newly-developed vw.OS on-vehicle system. Car clouds are connected. Among them, most of the software work will be completed by the public.

This is similar to Tesla-Tesla first proposed the concept of Zone Controller, which divided the ECU module originally integrated in the head of the vehicle into multiple domain controllers according to different areas, and was carried by three CCMs. The computer is responsible for: AICM Autopilot & Infotainment Control Module, BCM RH BodyControlModule Right, BCM LH Body Control Module Left. The three domains are all based on high-speed Ethernet technology to implement interactions, and they are all independently developed by Tesla.

The benefits of this structure are obvious. After integrating many ECUs into three domains, internal redundancy is reduced, and a large amount of computing work is concentrated on the vehicle CPU and even the cloud; Ethernet replaces the CAN bus, and Tesla is able to further streamline its internal wiring harness structure, increasing production efficiency and reducing costs. Significantly reduced; most importantly, this makes it possible for car-to-vehicle synergy to be enabled, and Tesla can quickly and continuously bring users freshness and maintain competitiveness through the vehicle OTA.

Following Tesla, after the new electronic and electrical architecture is completed, Volkswagen will also implement software updates through OTA. Regarding Tesla's software system, Thomas Ulbrich, a board member of Volkswagen's electric vehicle business, said recently that "Tesla has more than 10 years of experience in leading." But he still added a sentence: " But we will soon catch up. "

But today, Volkswagen seems to underestimate the difficulty and complexity of software development. In 2015, Tesla launched the first generation of Autopilot. Since then, it has recruited a large number of software R & D talents from Silicon Valley and carried out multiple iterative upgrades. Only in the past five years has it created a software system that is now praised by the industry. Even so, there are bugs in Tesla's software.

But this is the idea of software development. "First develop a minimized version, push it to users, and continue to develop and solve problems during the user's use, so as to achieve continuous iteration of the software until it matures." Liu Jianhao said. Rui Yanan also said: "The characteristic of the software is that the initial investment is large and the climbing period is particularly long. Once it enters the stable period, it can be copied on a large scale." However, the time is 2020, with today's powerful Tesla as a benchmark. , It is difficult for users to have the same patience with the lower-priced and slower-moving Volkswagen Group.

Especially from the perspective of traditional car companies, the inherent hardware thinking and decision-making system of German manufacturers such as Volkswagen Group will not allow them to deliver a non-100% sure safety product to users.

However, there is no perfect software in the world from the beginning. This may be an important reason for VW to delay the delivery of ID.3, and it will also be a barrier that other car companies must go through in the future. At present, Volkswagen is still focusing on building electrical and electronic architectures. "Volkswagen needs to take the lead in software and automotive electronics." Disi said. However, when the architecture is completed, there are still a lot of problems waiting for enterprises to solve.

"How many sensors are placed on the architecture? How to abstract the hardware into a service? How to define the application layer above the service layer? This is what car companies need to spend energy to do." Rui Yanan said. At the organizational level, while recruiting a large number of software talents, the company's style management model and organizational structure must also be changed accordingly to ensure efficient collaboration between departments.

On the supplier side, compared to distributed, an integrated electrical and electronic architecture means fewer traditional suppliers and more new ones. "The threshold for new suppliers is very low, it is easy to enter, and it will inevitably cause a sensation in the industry." Liu Jianhao said. However, both the interests of the supplier and the need to carefully consider, after all, the hot old models also require a lot of parts. In contrast, Tesla, which has no historical baggage, has basically no such troubles.

At the same time, due to self-developed software, companies also need to teach suppliers to develop methods and develop standards to ensure the future versatility and convenience of development tools and establish a common profitable ecological model.

However, the challenges have not been able to withstand the public's determination to transform. Compared with other traditional car companies, Volkswagen has taken a key step. Although the pain is inevitable, Volkswagen is already struggling to get a ticket to the future.