Software bugs are the latest bump in the road for EVs

Automakers navigating their electric transitions need a bit of tech support.

Driving the news: Software issues forced Volvo to delay deliveries of the EX30 electric SUV. Though the unspecified glitch has been resolved, new vehicles were held back by roughly two weeks.

  • This was after production on Volvo’s high-end EX90 was pushed from late last year to mid-2024 to give it more time to ensure its complex software worked properly.

Catch-up: A lot of legacy automakers are struggling with software glitches in their EVs.

  • GM stopped selling the Chevy Blazer EV shortly after it went on sale due to software bugs it has yet to resolve.
  • Volkswagen delayed three platforms that were, ironically, intended to make its software more efficient and less complex. That dominoed into delays for new Audi Q6 e-tron and Porsche Macan models.
  • Volkswagen’s software subsidiary CARIAD was set up to improve its software capabilities but hasn’t been able to fix delays, leading to management shake-ups.

Why it’s happening: Cars have had infotainment systems for over a decade and computers controlling individual electronic functions for far longer. But EVs are all electronics, so software is involved in everything from making the car move to the AC to charging the battery, and they all work together from a couple centralized systems.

  • Some legacy automakers might not be set up for the kind of software development needed to make those complex systems run smoothly.

Why it matters: Demand for EVs is wavering as steep price tags come up against an economic environment that has people delaying big-ticket purchases, and a software bug is the kind of thing that might make buyers hold off even longer.

Bottom line: Cars and computers are both really complicated machines. Add up all the problems you’ve ever had with both, and it might make sense that automakers are running into issues. But if drivers are going to get on board with EVs, automakers need to put their best foot forward, even if it means delays to get things right.