IThere are few business areas in the Volkswagen Group that are currently as much in focus as the Cariad software division. Founded two and a half years ago, it is supposed to develop uniform programs for cars of the next generation, but is struggling with many difficulties. Whole vehicle launches are postponed because solutions are not ready in time – a problem that VW is now also tackling with a recruitment offensive.
“We are resolutely pursuing the path to becoming a software-oriented mobility group and are aggressively recruiting experts in the field,” says the group’s HR director, Gunnar Kilian.
Most recently, the supervisory board got involved in the struggle for Cariad. He calls on the VW management to present a concept by the beginning of July on how work can be done better and more efficiently. CEO Herbert Diess, who has been responsible for software in the group since the beginning of this year and is increasingly under pressure due to Cariad’s difficulties, is in demand.
Globally, VW wants to have 10,000 programmers
Now it is to be precisely defined when delayed cars such as the Porsche Macan or the Audi Q6 E-Tron will hit the road and which timetable applies to development projects such as Trinity and Artemis. It’s about technology and decision-making processes, but also about budgets and increasing the workforce. This is already in full swing. “We are also expanding the team through targeted acquisitions and also recruit experts on the job market,” says Human Resources Director Kilian.
Last year, Cariad hired around 1,000 developers in Germany alone and increased the workforce in Germany to almost 5,000 employees. This year, the pace should increase again: Cariad is to get 1,500 programmers on board in Germany, Kilian announced in an interview with the FAZ. Globally, their number, including majority holdings such as the software companies Diconium, Nira or Embitel, is expected to increase from around 7,500 to 10,000. So far, VW had only announced such a magnitude for 2025.
The competition in the battle for skilled workers is fierce, not only from Internet companies such as Google or Facebook, but also from rivals such as Mercedes and BMW, who also hire many IT developers. However, VW sees itself in a good position, also because Europe’s largest car manufacturer is striving for extensive self-sufficiency in software and is therefore promising a broad field of activity.
“Our programmers shape the mobility of the future,” Kilian advertises for skilled workers. “Your codes will be in millions of cars around the world. This is an interesting offer that we use to attract a lot of talent.” The Group specifically addresses specialists on social media. In addition, VW has founded a joint venture with the start-up Expertlead for the recruitment of tech specialists.
Most recently, Cariad had caused a stir with difficulties. Experts from the consulting firm McKinsey, about whose work in the VW group the FAZ had reported first, revealed weaknesses in the design and working methods of the division. Wrangling over competence between participating brands such as VW, Audi and Porsche, plus an unfavorable distribution of manpower: all of this slowed down development and led to growing tensions in recent weeks, also between the camp around Diess and Audi boss Markus Duesmann, who until the end of the past year was responsible for Cariad on the VW board. Many in the workforce now fear that the group will spend months dealing with itself instead of focusing on the work.
Rainer Zugeh, Cariad’s Human Resources Director, outlines how things should work better in the future. “It will be crucial that all projects receive the necessary resources and team strength,” he says. “We will also pay even more attention to ensuring that development is better integrated and that there is no duplication of work between different software generations.” Not an easy task, because the software stages currently under development are actually separate projects with few connections. It is clear to everyone that the applications are essential for VW’s future business, emphasizes Zu related: “Cariad must not fail, we must be successful. And we will make it.”
Unlike rivals like the Opel parent company Stellantis, which is actively looking to work with tech giants like Amazon, VW wants to develop the software skills almost entirely itself. From the operating system that controls the basic functions in the car to autonomous driving: the Wolfsburg-based company sees all of this as business areas in which they want to make profits in the future. The group therefore invests 2.5 billion euros in Cariad every year, also in order not to become dependent on Internet giants from America or China. “With our resources, we are one of the few companies that can handle such a project,” says Human Resources Director Kilian.
He points out that the software division was launched as an independent entity in record time. It is one of the fastest company structures that has ever existed in Germany – with all the associated consequences. “Of course there will always be major challenges in a project like this,” he says. Everyone was now working together on solutions, from the board of directors in Wolfsburg to the group brands to the management of Cariad.
As a sign that the team is behind the project, he sees the large number of employees who were initially loaned to the software unit from Porsche, Audi and Co. and who have now permanently moved to the company. He says that 86 percent opted for it, also because of the in-house wage agreement that was negotiated specifically for Cariad. For the group, it is now a question of significantly increasing the pace in the unit. Discussions about this are in full swing in Wolfsburg.