Faulty car software 'putting drivers at risk'

Audi Q4 e tron sportback 2022 front quarter tracking

Over 11 months, four different Audi Q4 E-trons being tested by Autocar all experienced problems

Significant system faults are increasingly common, particularly in VW Group models

Faulty software is putting car owners unknowingly at risk, with issues not noticeable “until they fail to work in an emergency”.

These are the words of Ian Ferguson, founder of consumer advocate company Reject My Car, after Autocar readers shared their stories of close calls when tech went haywire.

Readers wrote in following Autocar’s own experience of software issues with three Audi Q4 E-trons, which ranged from active safety systems being disabled to the digital speedometer disappearing.

During an 11-month period, a Q4 E-tron 40, a Q4 E-tron 40 Sportback and a Q4 E-tron 50 Sportback being tested by Autocar all experienced problems. Audi’s technicians couldn’t trace the cause of the issues within the first two cars and the third was unexamined.

Ferguson said Volkswagen Group cars account for more than half of the complaints about faulty software his firm is handling – something backed up by our readers’ letters.

Reader Richard Mikula told Autocar: “Several days after we collected our new Volkswagen Golf 1.5 eTSI Style, messages started to appear informing us of various electrical issues. We were advised that these would all be resolved once the software had been updated [over the air]. Shortly after, the car reverted to factory settings and came to a halt.”

And this wasn’t all. A few days later, the system indicated a “major electrical error” and told Mikula’s wife to stop driving before the car “died on her”.

Mikula said that despite various software updates, his Golf is still faulty. 

“We won’t be replacing it with another Volkswagen Group model,” he concluded.

This is precisely the outcome that Thomas Schäfer, new CEO of Volkswagen Passenger Cars, has said he wants to avoid. 

Speaking earlier this month to Autocar, Schäfer said he wants to make Volkswagen “a loved brand again”.

He added: “VW is on a steep learning curve with the likes of over-the-air software [updates]. It has been a challenge, but we’ve made good strides with new voice control and Travel Assist.”

For many owners of Volkswagen Group cars, though, progress can’t come quickly enough.

Another Autocar reader, Terry Osborn, who owned an Audi A3 Saloon, said: “On my journey home, it suffered from three system crashes. A couple of weeks later, it experienced more, plus various warning lights.”

Osborn said Audi had been unable to fix his car so he had rejected it, instead opting for a new Kia Niro.

He added that he was so dismayed by the issues that plagued his A3 Saloon that he would never buy an Audi again, having been a customer for decades. This was his 11th Audi.

Autocar forwarded readers’ letters to the Volkswagen Group for its response. 

A spokesman said: “Our customer care teams continue to work with the open cases highlighted to find solutions as quickly as possible, as our priority is to ensure customer satisfaction.”

Source: Autocar

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