Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess held an Ask Me Anything session on reddit this week. He got over 1,000 questions from people all around the world and his answers were illuminating. Basically what he said was a testament to the power of over-the-air updates.
As cars become more like computers, many of their functions are controlled by software. No longer is it necessary to bring your car to a dealer to have things adjusted or new parts installed. As long as it has access to the internet, the manufacturer can modify existing software or add new software wirelessly.
Dies told the reddit community, “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.”
Plug & Charge allows drivers to simply arrive at a charging station, plug their vehicle in, and walk away, with no more input needed to start a charging session. Without it, drivers need to set up accounts in advance with every charging network they think they might use in their travels — EVgo, ChargePoint, Blink, Electrify America, Volta, and others — download apps, create passwords, then hope the charger they want to use will accept their information and allow charging to proceed when they need it.
Plug & Charge is like the Tesla Supercharger network. Arrive, plug in, unplug when charging is complete, then drive away. It’s effortless, seamless, and so easy its a wonder it has taken other companies this long to catch on to what a boon it is to those who choose to drive electric.
Diess also said that Auto Hold will be enabled when the new update occurs. Tesla drivers will be familiar with this feature that keeps the vehicle at a stand still when stopped even if it is pointing uphill or downhill. It’s one more reason not to use the brake pedal. Regenerative braking brings the car to a stop and Auto Hold keeps it from rolling forward or back. When the light turns green or traffic ahead starts moving, just toe the exhilarator and continue on with your journey. Auto Hold is the final piece of the puzzle that makes one pedal driving so convenient.
Other Goodies, Too
Diess added later in the conversation, “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.” We think he means from the battery in your car, not from a grid on another continent. V2H will be standard on all ID.4 cars for the 2023 model year and will be added via an OTA to older vehicles. “Just tested it together with Elke — really convenient, high time for introduction.”
Specs about how much electricity the cars can export to the home are sparse at the moment. And remember that upgrades to a home’s electrical panel will be required, something that Sunrun and Ford are partnering on to make V2H possible for F-150 Lightning owners.
Finally, Diess hinted that an electric pickup truck from Volkswagen might be a very cool thing for the US market, as would an electric version of the Volkswagen Beetle. Maybe they could call it the New, New, New Beetle? Or the Really New Beetle? “Many other emotional cars are possible on our scalable MEB platform,” he said. While that’s true, don’t hold your breath. If the company thinks there is no business case for the ID.3 in America, it’s hard to see how a reprise of the original Beetle would be any more welcome by American drivers.
The last thing on Diess’ mind was that Lidar is absolutely essential for autonomous cars, a sharp departure from what Elon Musk and Tesla think. Musk is adamant to the point of being pigheaded about not making Lidar part of Tesla’s Full Self Driving suite. Ultimately, either the market or regulators will settle this.
Over-the-air updates. Another disruption to business as usual in auto manufacturing brought to us courtesy of the Musketeers at Tesla. Volkswagen gets it, if a trifle belatedly. There’s no going back now!
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