Volkswagen's new Golf cars will use V2X to talk to each other wirelessly

The vehicular communication tech has been slow to arrive -- and now two very different standards are competing. VW likes the Wi-Fi version, not the 5G version.

Stephen Shankland Former Principal Writer
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Stephen Shankland
2 min read
2020 Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen's 2020 Golf includes V2X technology, which lets cars wirelessly communicate with each other and traffic lights, as a standard feature in Europe.


The newest generation of Volkswagen's popular Golf will get the ability to communicate directly with other cars with wireless technology called V2X -- short for vehicle to everything. The technology has been slow to catch on but has the potential to reduce accident rates, which is the reason Volkswagen's adding it to its cars in Europe.

The Golf is the first major car model to get the V2X ability, and Volkswagen and its V2X chip supplier, NXP Semiconductors, hope the milestone will encourage others to follow suit. The more vehicles and infrastructure like traffic signals with the V2X communication ability, the more useful it becomes.

"Volkswagen includes this technology, which doesn't involve any user fees, as a standard feature to accelerate V2X penetration in Europe," said Johannes Neft, Volkswagen's head of vehicle body development, in a statement Monday.

V2X has the potential to revolutionize car safety by letting cars pay better attention to their surroundings, in all directions at once simultaneously and without getting drowsy like a human driver.  V2X also could become an important foundation for autonomous vehicles, though leading companies like Waymo and Cruise aren't counting on it for now.

However, there are two incompatible versions of V2X technology: the older V2X standard one Volkswagen and NXP endorse, based on a variation of Wi-Fi networking, and a newer effort called C-V2X that uses the same mobile network technology as your phone.

V2X illustration

V2X lets cars wirelessly communicate with each other, traffic lights and potentially pedestrians.

NXP Semiconductor

The older standard, called Wi-Fi-p and pWLAN in Europe and Digital Short-Range Communications (DSRC) in the US, has been under development for about two decades but hasn't caught on except in pockets.

C-V2X has the advantage of using technology cars might build in directly anyway so they can download software updates, refresh map and traffic data, and offer streaming video to passengers. C-V2X also has the backing of powerful wireless network industry players who right now are eager to promote new uses of their nascent 5G networks.

Earlier this year, Toyota "paused" its adoption of the DSRC version of V2X, dealing the technology a significant blow. Ford, meanwhile, is an enthusiastic C-V2X supporter, with plans to build it into cars starting in 2021 despite regulatory uncertainty.

V2X includes a variety of facets: V2V (vehicle to vehicle), V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) and V2P (vehicle to pedestrian) communications. 

Watch this: 5 things you need to know about the 2019 VW Golf GTI