Volkswagen CEO says clunky infotainment overhaul starts now

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Earlier this year, the Volkswagen brand updated its MIB 3.0 modular infotainment matrix software. The evolution brought new features like more information in the digital gauge cluster, Park Assist Plus, and Travel Assist. It also tried to amend a few foibles we (and many others) have complained about since MIB's debut, improving touch recognition, speeding response times to touch inputs, tweaking the user experience, and adding over-the-air updates so owners don't need to drive to the dealer for enhancements. As we found in our First Drive of the 2023 Volkswagen ID.4, the most infuriating components remain, like the capacitive buttons everywhere, the non-illuminated volume and HVAC controls, and some odd button placement. Brand chief Thomas Schäfer spoke to Car magazine at the L.A. Auto Show and promised continuous updates over the next two years.

He explained the uproar from buyers and testers had gotten so bad that the Volkswagen Group Board stepped in and continues to be involved in monthly meetings about the system. The first task has been to figure out the brand identity, then the specific model identity. After that, it's about creating a logic to ergonomics and functionality for the brands and models that use the system by asking questions like, "What are the top 10 functions that customers always need?" and putting those on the first level of hard buttons. The secondary function are then decided and placed. Once that's decided, he said the imperative is "Keep it the bloody same. Don’t change it around!"

We're told the board meetings aren't merely discussions, they're for trying out improvements, "The [technical] team puts together mock-ups and we sit down and try them. We can say: 'This doesn’t really work. Who the hell did this? Next!'" More frequent clinics get random outsiders of all ages and abilities testing new ideas. "If you listen carefully," Schäfer said, "you find out what you should and shouldn't do." All of this sounds so basic, but so many basic and good ideas get shoved overboard when a company wants to be first, and everything is sacrificed to make the deadline.

The MIB 3.0 overhaul begins as soon as "in the next few weeks" with a software update, but we don't know what that contains. Meanwhile, now that OTA updates are part of the mix, incremental tweaks will come quicker. Next year, all of the sliders will be illuminated, and revised steering wheels debuting on the new Tiguan will begin the return of physical buttons to the cockpit. Additional hardware changes will carry on into 2024. Naturally, the hardware needs the most time thanks to the VW Group's size, Schäfer calling the physical revisions "a monumental task – because you have to change 100 tools and so many suppliers globally to change it into something new."

The ID.7 sedan and Tiguan are expected to show sometime next year.

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