BERLIN -- Volkswagen has launched over-the-air software updates for its ID3 full-electric hatchback as it seeks to match the upgrade capabilities of its rival, EV giant Tesla.
Starting this month, owners who are part of the "First Movers Club" of early ID3 adopters will receive the latest software version, ID.Software2.3.
VW said in the future it plans to update the software in its ID cars every three months.
The current update includes adjustments and improvements to ID Light functions, optimized surroundings recognition and dynamic main beam control, upgrades to the infotainment system, and additional performance and stability improvements.
The ID.Software2.3 update is divided into two "software campaigns," a VW spokesperson said.
The installation of the first campaign takes about 45 minutes, while the second follows soon after and takes about 150 minutes to install.
ID. Light now supports drivers visually when using the driver assistance systems, and helps users drive more efficiently by advising them when to take their foot off the pedal as they go through traffic signals.
Additional ID Light features tied to the upgrade include steering wheel contact detection, adaptive cruise control, efficiency assist and absolute reserve mode.
The software update also optimizes ambient detection and advanced main-beam control for the automaker's Dynamic Light Assist. Vehicles equipped with the advanced main-beam control Dynamic Light Assist now recognize other road users more precisely, the spokesperson said.
The ID.Software2.3 upgrade refreshes the infotainment system with redesigned digital buttons, customized fonts and an optimized arrangement of function menus, designed to improve the readability and usability of the infotainment system.
The home button can be customized as well: In addition to the Volkswagen logo, numerous national flags are also available.
The upgrades are downloaded directly to ID brand vehicle computers known as the In Car Application Server (ICAS), made up of two central high-performance computers that underpin VW's modular electric drive matrix (MEB) architecture.
This simplifies the exchange of data and functions between systems in the car and makes it possible to reach and update up to 35 control units through OTA updates.
"After having tested the update in around 1,000 company cars already, we are hoping to get feedback on the customer journey from the First Movers, specifically how customers receive and view the process," the spokesperson said. "These responses and experiences of the First Movers will help us to improve the process further where applicable, enabling us to then make the update available to all other customers as quickly as possible."
The First Movers Club is comprised of VW customers who bought an ID3. A Facebook page dedicated to the group numbers nearly 3300 members.
A company release said updates for all ID3, ID4 and ID4 GTX customers would follow gradually.
OTA updates are seen as a central functionality of the digital, connected car and soon to be an expected feature for customers, the same way users download operating system upgrades or apps on smartphones.
It's also a potential major revenue generation for automakers. In June, VW brand's sales chief Klaus Zellmer said he sees the potential for "triple-digit-millions" in sales through over-the-air upgrades.
VW's digital rollout for the ID3 has not always gone smoothly. The automaker began deliveries of the vehicle in September, but without key functions such as App Connect, which meant owners could not use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The glitch required consumers to return their vehicles to dealerships for overnight upgrades.
VW's brand development chief Thomas Ulbrich has also acknowledged the growing pains experienced with software rollouts on the latest Golf and ID3 and said the company must develop software faster and become more customer oriented.
"There were software bugs, there is no question about it, but we believe in the potential for the software in these cars," Ulbrich said. "We are going through a transformation phase."