Volkswagen AG has hired a former Tesla Inc. engineering director to help the company catch up in the electric vehicle software race. The new VW executive also worked at Rivian and Google’s Android Automotive division in the past.
As per Volkswagen, Sanjay Lal will join Volkswagen’s Cariad unit next month as head of a software design hub. He will be tasked with the development of a new software platform that will be used in Volkswagen’s future electric vehicles.
Two projects from Audi and Volkswagen are expected to debut the hub’s work. The hub’s output is also expected to become the basis for scaling the software architecture across VW’s brands, as noted in a Bloomberg News report.
Sanjay Lal worked as a director of engineering at Tesla for two years before joining Google’s Android Automotive project in 2019. Following this, he moved to Rivian, where he served as the Vice President of Software Platform until his departure.
Volkswagen CEO Oliver Blume has been taking steps to improve the veteran automaker’s software capabilities. The carmaker, after all, has encountered difficulties with the software in its vehicles. This became prominent in vehicles like the ID.3, which was a pretty proper EV save for its software.
Volkswagen’s software issues have adversely affected sales in key markets. In China, sales of Volkswagen’s all-electric cars have fallen behind industry leaders like Tesla and local powerhouses such as BYD. In the United States, Volkswagen’s EVs are outsold by rivals with much more refined software, such as the Tesla Model Y.
In a way, Lal’s hiring shows that Volkswagen is serious about catching up in the vehicle software race. His experience at Tesla, Google, and Rivian will likely provide him with the experience needed to help Volkswagen develop a competitive vehicle software platform. If he is successful, he could make Volkswagen’s EV offerings immediately more compelling for consumers.
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