Car Software, VW’s former software arm was tasked with development in areas that spanned the group’s vehicles.
CARIAD carries on the work that Car.Software started, but based on the importance VW is putting on the division, it will do so with greater expectations and focus. CARIAD is essentially an independent division, set up to service all of VW’s brands’ software needs.
As of late 2020, CARIAD employs some 4,500 developers and designers brought together from 15 software houses that were dispersed across the wider VW organization. The now centralized unit is working to “bundle and expand” VW Group’s software competencies so they can be unified across the group’s vehicles.
By 2025, VW wants CARIAD to double in size and be home to over 10,000 developers working on the software for its vehicles.
“CARIAD is an important lever in the digital transformation of the Volkswagen Group,” Sophie-Marija Krähling, Head of Brand Strategy & Events at CARIAD said in an announcement earlier this year.
With the changing automotive world, software will be a defining factor of: vehicles, cars, how we drive them, how we experience them, and how they are developed and maintained.
Think of all the technologies now found in our vehicles and how much processing power and software that goes into making it all work.
Advanced driver assistance systems can require complex machine learning and image recognition algorithms to interpret road conditions to assist the driver and improve vehicle safety. In-vehicle infotainment systems bring together entertainment applications that sync with services found outside our vehicles.
Digital cockpits augment the experience of the vehicle by displaying important information to the driver from the vehicle’s safety sensors, such as the ISA detected speed limit, EV battery level, blind spot warnings, weather forecasts and traffic information. And with electric drivetrains, vehicle characteristics and driving dynamics are largely defined by the software that controls them.
This further emphasizes the need for excellent software that integrates various features seamlessly across the entire vehicle. What’s more, the software can be updated over-the-air to bring new features and improvements over time.
There is far less differentiation between EVs than there is between combustion engine vehicles. Add to this the fact that companies like VW are looking to consolidate and streamline manufacturing with unified EV platforms and software becomes the key tool in differentiating a group’s vehicles across its brands and model line ups.
Software first vehicle manufacture
While the creation of CARIAD might sound mostly like corporate reorganization at heart, and for now it is, we won’t really start to see the impacts of CARIAD’s software for a few more years.
When we do, though, we should expect to see some noticeable changes in the digital experience in VW’s model lineup. We’ll likely see the unique elements of each brand brought to life through each vehicle’s digital systems, we should also see improvements and more frequent deployment of updates to the group’s EV. We should also expect to see a broadening of the company’s EV offering as platforms are shared across the group’s brands.