Volkswagen has partnered with Microsoft to help develop technology for self driving vehicles by tapping into Microsoft's cloud computing expertise. Volkswagen, a German giant with its headquarters in Wolfsburg, comprises twelve brands from seven European countries, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Ducati, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Scania and MAN. Some of the Volkswagen owned brands had been making their own efforts on self driving technology.
Last year Volkswagen consolidated some of those programs into one subsidiary, but the many brands where still using different systems to develop software, now they will all be joined together in Microsoft's cloud. In developing one system with the many brands Volkswagen owns, this will help VW to compete with one of Tesla's big advantages, the ability to do regular updates. Software developed in Microsoft's cloud program will be beamed directly into cars, allowing them to develop new functions over time. That means new self driving vehicles can be on the road with limited self driving ability and be updated as the years pass with new updates in automated driving technology.
By 2025, the Volkswagen Group plans to invest around 27 billion euros in digitalization to increase the proportion of in-house development of software in the self driving car from 10% to 60%.
Volkswagen is also going all out on its electric car production and intends to dominate the market. It plans to build six battery factories in Europe with a promise to reduce the cost of batteries by 50% by the end of the decade. Volkswagen said it would have 18,000 charging stations on the European continent some of which will be a joint venture with BP the British oil producer that would offer charging at its filling stations. Volkswagen is projecting that it can cut charging times of electric cars to 12 minutes, With the low cost of battery production and reduced charging times this would make electric cars cheaper than gasoline vehicles to operate and just as convenient.
Volkswagen dieselgate scandal. Volkswagen is still cleaning up its emission scandals in cars built from 2009 to 2015. In September of 2015 the Volkswagen scandal erupted when the company admitted that almost 600,000 cars sold in the USA were equipped with defeat devices designed to pass emission testing. Though out the world, nearly 11 million vehicles are equipped with a defeat device to get around emissions laws to keep the air clean. Cars now have dozen of computer inside them and some of those computers help correlate the function of the engine for optimum performance while making sure there is not to much pollutants released into the atmosphere. Diesel vehicles have one more important computer controlled parameter which is the unburned fuel going into the exhaust. In diesel engines there is a additional device called a noxtrap, which is a device that absorbs and traps nitrogen oxide that would otherwise go into the atmosphere. The effect of the noxtrap is enhanced with unburned fuel. The defeat device computer programs in the diesel cars, made it look like the cars where meeting emission standards even when it did not. The very sophisticated defeat device would actually detect when it was getting a emissions test by steering wheel position, speed, how long the engine was on, and atmospheric pressure. In the emission test the diesel cars would use more fuel to make the noxtrap work more effective, diesel engines emissions would pass the test, but when you get on the road the device turns off and you are putting 40 times more pollutants into the air. To make up for the environmental damage caused by the dirty diesels, VW is paying $2.7 billion to fund efforts to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in areas with severe smog. It has also agreed to invest $2 billion in manufacturing, promoting and building infrastructure for electric vehicles.