Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess recently took part in a Reddit Q & A session, answering a wide array of questions with a particular focus on electrification, software and autonomy. When quizzed about his stance on Lidar technology, Diess remarked that it was essential in achieving Level 3 autonomy:
Lidar technology is still expensive, but today [it's] the only way to offer redundant perception to the 360 camera systems which are a must. Safety is really crucial in autonomous driving. For level 3 driving you need redundant perception.
Volkswagen has partnered with Intel subsidiary MobileEye for its Lidar systems. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, a personal friend of Diess, has a different opinion on Lidar. Musk thinks its unnecessary, and has in the past pointed out how humans don't come equipped with Lidar so cars don't need to either.
Apart from Lidar, Diess also touched on a major software update for the ID.4 coming his summer:
We will have a major OTA update for the ID.4 coming this summer, which will add features like Plug&Charge and Auto Hold, as well as a higher capacity onboard charge capability.
Diess also believes an electric pickup for the US market could be a "good idea" meanwhile a sub $25,000 EV sedan with 300 miles of range would be a challenge at that price point, but VW is working on "electric cars around 20k euros for entry segments".
Software has been a sore point for VW in recent times, with issues relating to the ID.3's infotainment delaying its launch. Diess stated VW is doing more to become self-sufficient and develop software in-house:
We are building up capabilities to become self sufficient in car software, through organic growth, majorc auqisitions, partnerships to build up own IP and recruiting tech talents. Last year we hired around 1000 software engineers. To aquire IP we started a partnership with Bosch. To advance our image recognition capabilities we aquired the Hella Aglaia team. More to come. Currently we are investing 2 billion for software per year & CARIAD is already delivering the software updates over the air, preparing new launches and features together with our brands.
When asked what the next 25 years could look like for Volkswagen, Diess admitted it was difficult to predict but advances in tech are coming at unprecedented speeds:
25 years are very difficult to predict. Advancements in technology are coming fast. My guess: All cars will be able to drive autonomously, very safe, probably no accidents at all anymore. Emission free, very comfortable – cars will take you where you want to go and when you want to go. Still there will be precious brands for different customer preferences, still cars will be the most important means of transport. But totally safe, convenient and sustainable.