Volkswagen wants its new infotainment system to be more attractive to use on the move than popular third-party apps like Google Maps and Waze.
Axel Heinrich, Volkswagen’s head of innovation and systems architecture, said the popularity of smartphone-mirroring functions like these show there is “a little bit lacking in our performance and navigation”.
He said: “Our maps and traffic are not the best, like Google.”
But, he highlighted, if drivers choose to use a non-VW navigation interface, they miss out on VW’s integrated battery management system, which recommends charging times and locations. “It’s a trade-off you have to make when multi-stop routing,” said Heinrich.
Asked if VW is pushing to encourage drivers to use its own app, he said: “Yes, but we are not dreaming.”
One potential way of boosting usership is by exchanging data with third parties like Google. This could mean VW’s in-house mapping platform has improved functionality, while Google’s is able to monitor in-car metrics, such as state of charge.
Heinrich suggested the new European data act could allow customers the choice to share data about their vehicle with third-party apps and Volkswagen is discussing what opportunities this presents.
Volkswagen’s renewed focus on software and interior useability comes after harsh criticism of the Mk8 Golf and the Volkswagen ID 3 from buyers and the wider media. Indeed, VW brand boss Thomas Schäfer admitted in June 2023 that those cars’ unconventional interiors “definitely did a lot of damage” to its standing among loyal customers.
Among the changes being made across the firm’s cars are the return of physical buttons to its steering wheels and the reorganisation of the infotainment software to prioritise critical functions.