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Digitalization in the Volkswagen Group


By 2030 the automobile will have changed fundamentally: the focus will be on electric drive, connectivity and autonomous driving. With the “NEW AUTO – Mobility for Generations to Come” group strategy, Volkswagen is future-proofing itself and will have already invested around 27 billion euros in the digitalisation of product and corporation by 2025. The message is clear: Volkswagen is transforming into a tech group and, going forward, will offer their customers everything from a single source, from hardware through software to services.

The entire economic world is undergoing a radical phase of transformation. The digitalisation of all industries is the driver of this change, in which Volkswagen is playing a key role. The overall guiding principle of the NEW AUTO strategy is redefining mobility while doing business with climate neutrality, and responsibly. The focus is on the development of sustainable, connected, secure, tailored mobility solutions for future generations.

On the journey to becoming a software-oriented mobility provider, in addition to the car and services relating to mobility, Volkswagen is also digitalising development and vehicle production, and is setting up agile ways of working for its employees. The objective being to link the mobile and digital world in such a way that customers, the corporation and society all benefit equally.

“In the coming years assuming a leading position for software in the car will be key. Only as a digital mobility group will we be able to meet people’s needs for individual, sustainable, fully networked mobility in the future”

Herbert Diess Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG

Software as the key to the automobile experience of the future

Software already plays a key role in the car, and it will become increasingly important in future. Today’s cars such as the Volkswagen ID.4 are fully networked, their functionality can be configured on an individual basis and can be continuously expanded. Customers can add functions at any time, ‘on demand’. The cars will also be kept up-to-date via “Over-the-Air Updates” – without needing to go to the garage.

So, software is increasingly decisive in how a customer experiences their car. The operating system of a car and its connectivity with a data cloud are becoming more of a factor that gives a competitive edge. They are the basis for assistance systems with greater performance through to autonomous driving, which makes motoring even safer and more comfortable. Simply put: The automobile will become an all-electric powered ‘mobile device’, a smart mobility companion.

Volkswagen on the journey to “NEW AUTO”

Volkswagen is heading towards “Smart Mobility Companion” at full speed and making software yet another core competency. The objective is to raise the percentage of internal software development in the car from the 10 percent it is at today to 60 percent. The driving force behind this transformation is CARIAD. The group bundles its digital expertise and expands it massively in the automotive software corporation.

Currently, around 4,500 software experts are working on the digitalisation and connectivity of the group brands’ vehicles under the umbrella of CARIAD. The main focus is on the development of a scalable, high-performance software platform for all brands and markets in the group. In particular, this is the vehicle operating system VW.OS and the connection to the associated Volkswagen Automotive Cloud, which will process the data from millions of vehicles per day in future. Initially, the full scope of this is planned for the Audi project “Artemis” in 2025, then the software platform will be rolled out more widely with the Volkswagen project “Trinity” as of 2026. Thanks to the standardised software scopes, Volkswagen is set to generate considerable economies of scale, thereby significantly reducing the costs of the software per car across all brands.

Greater efficiency with digital processes

In the group’s IT department, around 12,000 IT experts around the world are working on the digitalisation of business processes and the connectivity of millions of people a day: from the around 670,000 Volkswagen Group employees to suppliers, dealers and customers. At the locations Berlin, Wolfsburg, San Francisco and Munich, cross-brand IT solutions are being developed that will sustainably improve people’s lives. The basis for this is the group-wide IT infrastructure that includes carbon-neutral data centres and global networks that are under continuous development.

The industrial application of Internet of Things connects production facilities and systems. It is in this context that Volkswagen is currently setting up the biggest cloud project of its type in the world: the Industrial Cloud. In future, the data from all machines, installations and systems from 118 factories will be amalgamated and analysed in this cloud. The IT specialists are also programming the capabilities for autonomous service and industry robots, which will take on increasingly complex processes. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are already optimising processes in production and in the office. And Volkswagen is going one step further: The group is the first automotive company in the world to test the use of quantum computers for real-world applications. To provide the ultimate protection for our data and that of our customers, we are working with the latest IT security standards, which we are helping draw up across industries for the business location of Germany in the Germany Cyber Security Organisation.

Volkswagen services offer flexible mobility

Whether it’s car sharing, micro-mobility services for the final mile, ride sharing services or ride pooling services: In big cities in particular, digitalisation results in diverse new offerings that make life easier. The Volkswagen Group is at the fore with its services.

With “WeShare”, the all-electric car sharing offering from Volkswagen, more than 100,000 registered customers can make use of 1,500 e-Golf and ID.3 in the German capital of Berlin at present. The “Vehicle on Demand” service now also offers an additional 800 ID.3 in Hamburg as of February 2021 – with more cities set to follow.

MOIA has also been redefining urban mobility since 2016. The all-electric ride pooling service provides people in Hamburg and Hannover with another environmentally-friendly, congestion-reducing addition to public transport. With MOIA’s ride pooling service, people who are starting and finishing their journeys in similar locations share a car. Customers use an app to send a ride request. The entire digital ecosystem is an in-house development: from apps through algorithms to fleet management.

Autonomous driving is the future

Meanwhile, with Argo AI, Volkswagen is preparing commercial vehicles for the next step for MOIA: ride pooling with autonomous vehicles. As part of the collaboration with Ford and Argo AI, Volkswagen is developing a self-driving system that takes persons (MaaS) or goods (TaaS) from A to B in urban areas. The all-electric ID. BUZZ, set to make its world debut next year, is the basis for this system. Development is already in full swing, not only to electrify the iconic camper van, but to make it a pioneering autonomous vehicle with the self-driving system. The goal: to be one of the leading global automobile manufacturers for autonomous driving as of 2025.

In addition to Argo AI, the group is also investing in CARIAD projects. Assisted and automated driving functions up to level 4 are being developed for all of the Volkswagen Group’s brands for individual mobility.

A new generation of software developers

Volkswagen is investing not only in innovative technologies, but in the next generation of IT specialists as well: In collaboration with the talent factory “42”, the corporation founded “42 Wolfsburg”. Around 170 students have been being trained up to become software developers there since May 2021, with this number set to rise to 600 students per year from 2022. The global “42” network’s innovative training concept uses new, creative forms of IT training: with open access, without professors or lectures. In its first year, Volkswagen is supporting “42 Wolfsburg” with 3.7 million euros, and with two million euros per year thereafter.

Volkswagen has also been training up 73 IT talents to become software developers in the in-house Faculty since March 2019. Over the course of the two-year qualification programme, those gifted in IT and software enthusiasts are given the opportunity to professionalise their passion and help shape the future of mobility at Volkswagen.

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