SHANGHAI -- Volkswagen's new Golf is on track to go on sale in Europe starting at the end of February following delays caused by the hatchback's advanced digital features including over the air (OTA) software updates.
The Golf "lies within the target corridor when it comes to eliminating bugs," VW brand chief Juergen Stackmann said on the sidelines of the auto show here last week.
Stackmann said the launch of the Golf was scheduled for the ninth calendar week of next year, which begins on February 24. It will launch first in Germany, with other European markets following soon after.
In part due to its new online functionality, the eighth-generation Golf has been beset by software glitches.
"We've never hid the fact that software, an area of extreme importance for products in the future, is a serious challenge for us," Stackmann said. "We have our homework ahead of us, and the teams are under heavy pressure."
Pressed about the exact cause of the software glitches, Stackmann said a lot of the problems faced by engineers were because of the new Golf's ability to update its software over the air. This also makes it potentially vulnerable to hackers.
Previously the only way someone could gain access to key functions of a car was directly tapping into the controller network, or CAN bus.
"Due to their online connectivity there is a lot more software especially in the area of security, which is a real challenge since the car is no longer a closed ecosystem," Stackmann said.
Already now there are ten times more lines of code in the latest Golf than in a smartphone, but it is not just the complexity in the vehicle that causes problems.
"A customer might get angry if their smartphone doesn't work, but you do a debug the next day. A car is different -- if something goes wrong it can become critical, so the security requirements are far higher," Stackmann said.
Another complication is whether OTA software updates affect a vehicle's homologation, Stackmann said.
"You're adding content to a vehicle afterwards, and this is an area where we are working together with the type approval agencies to define these processes. It is new for them as well," he said.