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ID.4 1st Edition White / Lunar Grey
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This post I'm just kinda throwing out there.

Two unrelated videos popped up yesterday, but back-to-back they're thought provoking when considering something as complex as vehicle design.

Start with a Sandy Munro roundtable comparing the electronics architecture of the ID.4 vs. the Model Y. We can save all the Tesla fanboy comments (or not, whatever) but I presume that their numbers are accurate and where I've bookmarked the video, they're discussing the number of individual control modules that VW uses (52) vs. Tesla (26). Sandy asks a valid question, "Why?" as he notes MEB is a brand new platform, and his guests present their thoughts.


Continue with Marques Brownlee and a Right to Repair video with Louis Rossmann as a guest. Where I've bookmarked this video, they have a back-and-forth about the state of technology and integration. In short: we've gone from swappable CPUs and plug-in batteries to components so integrated and specialized that advanced tools are needed to service them. It's deeper than that, but you can watch for yourself:


Bringing this back to our ID.4 (or probably any vehicle other than Tesla) -- tight integration can probably serve the owner as you can fit more "stuff" in smaller spaces; a more tightly integrated ID.4 might have space for a frunk (again, hate/love comments, I know...). If an ECU breaks, it's maybe easier to isolate and replace 1 of 26 rather than 1 of 52. Maybe the vehicle is cheaper or more reliable or more capable for the same amount of money, sort of like how our laptops and phones have progressed generationally.

But I can think of some downsides, too. Maybe with more integrated modules the cost to replace a broken one is substantially higher. Maybe it's more difficult to replace (if a door ECU isn't physically located in the door, but instead under the dash). Maybe it means VW or whomever doesn't have as much flexibility across the spectrum of all the vehicles they want to offer because they can't easily mix, match, and remove ECUs to meet certain price points or features.

VW has been clear that they want to and are working towards becoming more integrated, so from that standpoint, none of this is a philosophical discussion -- they feel tight integration is where they need to go, and plan to do what Tesla and all of tech is already doing. But what's right for VW maybe isn't right for a consumer who wants to be able to repair their own car. Or perhaps, will make the likelihood of their car needing repair to be that much more remote.
 

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It's a lot easier to develop and upgrade individual software components that work together than it is to modify a single complex system. I suspect that given solid state hardware and simpler software components it will actually make failures less difficult and costly to deal with. Easier to swap out a broken part than an entire engine.
 

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ID.4 1st Edition White / Lunar Grey
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's a lot easier to develop and upgrade individual software components that work together than it is to modify a single complex system. I suspect that given solid state hardware and simpler software components it will actually make failures less difficult and costly to deal with. Easier to swap out a broken part than an entire engine.
Yep! Except...

The concept of the LRU -- the Line Replaceable Unit. Radar busted in your airliner? Tech just slides out a module, slides the replacement in. No soldering, no fussing with wires, no diagnostics until the broken one is on the bench.

And at work we're pulling out hair out over our fire alarm system; each building has a Node (aka ECU in our ID.4 example) and they're generationally different, but capable of communicating to each other and the main panel (aka ECM), but for the past months they've been wonky and even Honeywell's big guns haven't been able to untie this knot. Fewer would be better, but our "complex" was built brick by brick over 70+ years and continues to evolve, so the multi-ECU approach was and is a necessity. Hopefully VW isn't building our cars one door at a time. :)
 
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