2020, SBD Automotive carried out its infotainment expert usability evaluation of
the Volkswagen ID.3 cockpit in the UK. The first of a new generation of Volkswagen
EVs built from the ground up with a consolidated software defined architecture,
it's not easy to overstate the importance of the ID.3 – the company's fortunes
rely in no small part on its success.
Volkswagen set itself an enormous task to develop an entirely new
electrical/electronic architecture with as much in-house development as
possible, and for this they should be commended. However, the current output of
this approach does not appear to have been effective and the findings of SBD’s report reiterate this viewpoint.
The system features
a minimal cockpit with a central pod housing the same 10-inch landscape screen
found in the Golf 8, and running a near-identical version of MIB-3 software.
Below the screen are sliders for volume and temperature and below these are four
system shortcut buttons plus the hazard light button. On top of the steering
column is a second, smaller pod containing a 5.3-inch screen which serves as an
instrument cluster. A HUD is available on some models with an augmented reality
element due for release in the imminent ME2 software update.
significant issue with the ID.3 is the number of bugs and issues the system
exhibits. Over a relatively short testing period, SBD identified 14 system bugs,
many high frequency, including a complete lack of GPS signal for a day which prevented
any route guidance (more of an issue than usual due to no smartphone mirroring
provision), frequent interruptions to the data connection, several system error
messages, multiple issues with voice recognition, several crashes of discrete
elements within the system, a 110mph recognised speed limit (the UK national
limit is 70mph) and unexpected waypoint recommendations when setting a route including
nearby fuel stations.
Operation of the buttons below the central display is problematic for several reasons, mainly their proximity to the screen. Due to them being touch sensitive, operating the screen results in frequent misoperation of the buttons, particularly as the lower row coincides with the knuckle when using the lower part of the screen. The sliders directly beneath the screen are unintuitive, and while they operate slightly better than in the Golf, they lack any backlighting which makes operation far more difficult at night.
windscreen is the ‘ID.Light’ light bar, a new interface to inform/alert the
driver to various different vehicle states. Comprising a thin LED strip running
the full width of the dashboard, it informs the driver by flashing or pulsing for
use cases including navigation information, braking prompts, voice recognition
(VR) feedback and battery/charging status. This is a feature that divided the testers: one felt it presented tangible benefits with minimal increased distraction, the other viewed it as something that duplicated information in a less informative manner.
ID.Light is one of only a very few positives identified with the system. Overall, the ID.3 provides the user with a sensation of unreliability and inconsistency due to
the number of bugs and issues encountered. Combined with missing functionality,
difficulties using the controls beneath the central display, the learning curve
required to become accustomed to HVAC, the tiny instrument cluster and the
ineffectual VR, this is a
system that currently fails to impress. As the car currently
stands, it seems Volkswagen set itself a more extensive challenge
than was reasonably achievable in the defined timescale.
With the imminent software update
and the forthcoming release of the ID.4, it remains to be seen whether
functionality and stability can be improved to a level that will please
customers, particularly those that don’t consider themselves early adopters.
The ID.3 report
is the eighth in a series of 12 infotainment expert user experience evaluations
SBD Automotive is carrying out this year. These reports have been produced for several years and provide
an expert evaluation of the leading navigation and infotainment systems in the European,
US, Chinese and Japanese markets. The series has four main objectives, aimed at
supporting clients at various stages of the development cycle: Benchmark and
score, Define areas of concern, Outline best practice and Provide tangible
recommendations. For these studies SBD Automotive evaluates the three core
components of user experience: functionality, ergonomics and usability, to
ensure a fair score can be provided across each system evaluated.
rely on a robust methodology that has been developed over the lifetime of the
series. It captures over 1,000 data points across 12 different disciplines
including static and dynamic testing, system performance, a feature checklist
and SUS scoring (see charts) to build a data set that can be consistently benchmarked
against all competitor cars, including an overall final percentage system UX