Polestar and Volvo are the latest automakers caught in software purgatory

Software, it turns out, is hard for automakers. And building a so-called software-defined car — the term du jour in automotive circles — is even harder.

Software development problems have led to executive shakeups at VW Group, bricked vehicles, recalls and generally unpleasant vehicle experiences. Now, Polestar and Volvo Cars have gotten caught up in the endless gyre of software development. Both companies delayed the launch of their next EV because of software development snags.

Polestar said Thursday as part of its first-quarter earnings report that final software development of its new all-electric platform shared by Volvo Cars is needed and that the start of production of Polestar 3 has been pushed to the first quarter of 2024. Polestar and Volvo Cars are owned by the same parent company Geely Holdings. Polestar went public via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company in June 2022. Volvo Cars remains a majority shareholder of Polestar.

"In light of this and the economic environment affecting the automotive industry, Polestar now expects 2023 global volumes of 60,000 – 70,000 vehicles, representing annual growth of 16% – 36%, following record deliveries of 51,491 last year," the company said.

Polestar said the Polestar 4 is still expected to make its market debut in China in the fourth quarter of 2023. The Polestar 4 will head to other markets in early 2024.

Meanwhile, over at Volvo Cars, the same story is playing out. The company said Thursday it won't begin producing the all-electric Volvo EX90 until the first half of 2024 because it needs additional time in software development and testing. Production was supposed to start at the end of 2023.

VW Group also recently delayed its software development plans. Earlier this week, the company ousted top leadership at its software arm Cariad and brought in Bentley executive Peter Bosch to put it back on track.

Software 1.1 version is found in Volkswagen vehicles today. The software 1.2. platform is being developed for Audi and Porsche cars, while the 2.0 version will be an operating system designed for all VW Group brands. But efforts are at least two years behind schedule. The software 1.2 platform was supposed to be completed in 2022. Now Cariad is working to complete it this year to be ready for 2024 VW models.

VW Group pushed back the launch of 2.0 until 2027 or 2028.