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Imprecise by the Dashboard Light
Photo © bizoo_n

Imprecise by the Dashboard Light

Apr 15, 2020

The devil is in the details and sometimes even the most diligent carmakers come a-cropper when the software in an EV warns of an oil change.

Audi e-tron owners were left scratching their heads when their cars’ dashboards suddenly prompted them to perform an “oil change and inspection.” What turned out to be a snafu in the software department sent e-mobility enthusiasts to social media to complain or make fun. 

Some criticized original equipment manufacturers who still depend on “gas cars,” and called Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of electric carmaker Tesla and avid Twitter user, to jab at the competitor Audi and “troll this in the next Tesla update.”

Others protested it was a conspiracy between the automakers and dealers so that the former help the latter “keep making money on service, even if no service is needed,” e-tron owner Carey Trost told EV website Electrek.

Apparently, the warning message appeared in a limited number of e-tron units sold in the United States and Europe before the vehicles reached what would have been the end of their 10,000 mileage oil drain interval had they been ICE cars.

Audi told Lubes’n’Greases that the entire furor surrounding the gaffe is based on something far more mundane – a technical overlap in the production of battery-electric driven and fuel powered Audi cars.

“The e-tron shares the basic software for infotainment and displays with the Audi luxury class models based on the MLB Evo platform. It has synergetic reasons as it allows a sustainable management of economies of scale,” Mark Dahncke, communications director at Audio of America, said in emailed comments.

MLB, a German technical term, stands for Modular Longitudinal Matrix. It is the platform on which some carmakers such as Volkswagen or Audi simplify the design and construction of different models by using many common components. 

Dahncke added that in the 38th calendar week of the 2018 e-tron production run, the software was updated, so the incorrect message was left to appear only in limited number of the early build units. 

“The oil change notification for the Audi e-tron was identified as part of the general testing and validation. Data records for the corresponding control unit were adapted and established for serial  production … It does not present any safety concern and is being rectified,” he said.

Put simply, e-tron owners can safely continue using their beloved electric cars and ignore the oil change message. Even if it appears again.  It may well be a symbol for the brotherhood between the gasoline powered internal combustion engine and battery-electric powered vehicles.