Wednesday, January 20, 2021

g-f(2)85 THE BIG PICTURE OF THE DIGITAL AGE, WSJ, How Volkswagen’s $50 Billion Plan to Beat Tesla Short-Circuited.


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Extra-condensed knowledge

Volkswagen, the world’s largest car maker, has outspent all rivals in a global bid by auto incumbents to beat Tesla. 
  • For years, industry leaders and analysts pointed to the German company as evidence that, once unleashed, the old guard’s raw financial power paired with decades of engineering excellence would make short work of Elon Musk’s scrappy startup.
  • Electrifying Performance. Despite being much smaller than conventional auto makers, Tesla enjoys a far greater market value.


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Condensed knowledge  


Volkswagen, the world’s largest car maker, has outspent all rivals in a global bid by auto incumbents to beat Tesla. 
  • For years, industry leaders and analysts pointed to the German company as evidence that, once unleashed, the old guard’s raw financial power paired with decades of engineering excellence would make short work of Elon Musk’s scrappy startup.
  • Electrifying Performance. Despite being much smaller than conventional auto makers, Tesla enjoys a far greater market value.
  • What they didn’t consider: Electric vehicles are more about software than hardware. And producing exquisitely engineered gas-powered cars doesn’t translate into coding savvy.
  • CEO Herbert Diess and his guest, Chancellor Angela Merkel, stood in anticipation as the first ID.3, Germany’s long-awaited answer to Tesla, rolled off the assembly line.
  • The event at the company’s flagship EV plant just over a year ago marked a “systemic shift from the combustion engine to the electric vehicle,” said Thomas Ulbrich, leader of the ID.3 effort. The car, however, didn’t work as advertised.
  • It could drive, turn corners and stop on a dime. But the fancy technology features VW had promised were either absent or broken. The company’s programmers hadn’t yet figured out how to update the car’s software remotely.
  • Its futuristic head-up display that was supposed to flash speed, directions and other data onto the windshield didn’t function. Early owners began reporting hundreds of other software bugs.
  • After years of development, Volkswagen decided in June last year to delay the launch and sell the first batch of cars without a full array of software, pending a future update, which is now scheduled for mid-February. 
  • Tens of thousands of ID.3 owners will have to bring their cars in for service to have the new software installed.
  • The ID.3 debacle is raising the temperature at Volkswagen. Mr. Diess nearly lost his job last year amid a revolt of Germany’s powerful IG Metall labor union and shareholder anger over the botched launch of the Golf-8, the VW brand’s breadwinner, and the bungled launch of the ID.3.
  • Change is coming, Mr. Diess wrote on his LinkedIn page, and VW must move faster. “The global transformation of the industry will take roughly 10 years,” he wrote. “With or without Volkswagen.”
    • “We fairly quickly came to the conclusion that we needed a separate unit and needed to give it the freedom to develop, a bit like a rocket,” said Alexander Hitzinger, a Porsche and Apple veteran who presented the idea to the meeting, dubbing the project “Mission T”—as in beat Tesla. 
    • To build his leadership team, Mr. Hitzinger is reaching out to tech companies and startups, bringing the automotive and technology worlds together. 

Category 2: The Big Picture of the Digital Age

[genioux fact produced, deduced or extracted from WSJ]

Type of essential knowledge of this “genioux fact”: Essential Deduced and Extracted Knowledge (EDEK).

Type of validity of the "genioux fact". 

  • Inherited from sources + Supported by the knowledge of one or more experts.


Authors of the genioux fact

Fernando Machuca


References




ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Senior reporter, The Wall Street Journal

European automotive reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires and http://wsj.com. Based in Berlin.

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