VW enlists former Tesla, Rivian, and Google engineer to boost software development


Volkswagen (VW) has been grappling with the challenges of advancing its next-generation software platform, but a recent hire may provide a much-needed boost. The German automaker has just announced the addition of Sanjay Lal to its team. While not a household name, Lal brings a wealth of experience, having previously worked at Rivian and served as the Director of Engineering at Tesla for two years. Lal also contributed to Google’s Android Automotive project.

According to reports from Bloomberg, Sanjay Lal will lead a software design hub within VW’s Cariad unit, responsible for developing a new software platform for the company’s future electric vehicles (EVs). This new software platform will make its debut in two Volkswagen and Audi models and will serve as the foundation for an architecture that will be shared across VW’s entire portfolio of brands.

Lal’s career includes a stint as Director of Engineering at Tesla from July 2017 to June 2019, followed by his involvement in Google’s Android Automotive division from June 2019 to August 2021. More recently, he served as the Vice President of the software platform at Rivian.

Notably, VW’s software development journey has faced hurdles. Last year, Porsche was compelled to delay the launch of its electric Macan due to issues related to Cariad’s next-generation 2.0 software. To address this, VW’s Chief Operating Officer Arno Antlitz announced a pivot towards developing a Software 1.2 platform, enabling the launch of the new Macan and Audi Q6 e-tron, while postponing Software 2.0 to approximately 2027 or 2028.

Resolving Cariad’s software issues has been a top priority for VW’s Chief Executive, Oliver Blume, since taking the helm. This year, Dirk Hilgenberg, the former leader of the subsidiary, was replaced by Bentley’s production chief as part of the company’s commitment to overcome these software challenges and accelerate its EV ambitions.