The anger just doesn’t stop, and that with the most important model, of all things: Volkswagen is calling 56,000 Golf 8s back because the manufacturer simply cannot get the problems with the software under control. “The entire first production is affected,” a company spokesman told the editorial network in Germany.
Although the problems are not related to safety-related systems, the infotainment system, the electronic heart of the Wolfsburg bestseller, fails again and again in very different places: Sometimes the system reacts slowly, sometimes the screen goes black or the voice control doesn’t understand the commands , then the lane departure warning system suddenly stops working, the reversing camera does not transmit any images or the air conditioning system goes on strike. The customers are angry now: “The complaints are high. We did not meet our own requirements, we did not achieve the set goal, ”admits the VW man.
The recall affects around 26,000 vehicles in Germany, the rest is spread across Europe. This is not a mandatory recall, but a voluntary action, emphasizes the group. A visit to the workshop is inevitable – the software of the vehicles concerned cannot be copied over the air and brought up to date, because the systems are partially decentralized and do not have the necessary networking. The first production of the Golf 8, with which Volkswagen wanted to make the leap into the digital age, is not able to do so.
Problems with the software cannot be resolved individually
The fact that there could be difficulties with the Golf 8 had already been announced before the market launch in 2019: In the final phase of the final vote, the error messages in the software piled up so much that the manufacturer was forced to schedule a hurried press conference in order to calm down again to get into history.
Everything was under control, it was said at the time. Frequent error messages in this phase of development are normal given the complexity of the systems. “Nothing can be done alone anymore, nothing can be viewed in isolation because everything interlocks,” a developer explained the problem at the time.
But as early as May of last year VW had to order around 30,000 vehicles to the workshops because there were problems with the electronic emergency call assistant eCall – since this is a safety-relevant system, the recall was monitored by the Federal Motor Transport Authority.
They are now smarter: VW is working flat out on its own software solutions in order to become independent of the various suppliers. A manufacturer like Tesla, who has relied on centralized solutions from the start, proves that highly complex vehicle electronics can very well run stably.
Bumpy and hasty market start
The fact that the market launch of the Golf 8 was so bumpy and that thousands of customers of the vehicle are still struggling with the problems from that time could have another reason: In the end, the market launch was in a particularly hurry because the crash test ratings were still in place pending.
The maximum number of five stars for the best possible active and passive vehicle safety was set for the Golf. The eternal bestseller in the Lower Saxony program could not afford to be weak, the damage to its image would have been enormous. It is questionable, however, whether the car might not have received the five stars had it been tested under the new, more stringent NCAP crash test conditions from 2020, which are based more on realistic scenarios, especially when it comes to impact protection. There has never been an official confirmation from VW.
On the other hand, we are currently looking to the future full of optimism: if the software of the vehicles affected now has been installed, all difficulties should have been resolved, they say. Then the vehicles are on the same level as everyone else. “Apart from the difficulties that such complex systems can cause again and again,” says the VW spokesman.
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