Audi Project Artemis wants to make EV development more efficient

Jonathon Ramsey

Audi's recent CEO hire, Markus Duesmann, has launched his first big initiative, called Project Artemis. The plan's marquee component is "to implement a new lighthouse project for Audi in record time," being "a highly efficient electric car scheduled to be on the road as early as 2024." To pull this off properly, the path is as important as the goal — Duesmann wants the Artemis team to marshal all the forces available across the Volkswagen Group "to provide blueprint for future agile development of cars throughout Group." That means Project Artemis is charged with creating a new way to develop better technologies and processes as it develops a better electric car more quickly, and then it will share its knowledge with the other brands in the group so that they can all produce better tech and better cars more quickly. 

Perhaps it's a coincidence, but the U.S. space agency NASA also has an Artemis program. In collaboration with other national space agencies and commercial entities, the Artemis program wants to put the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024 as the first step to creating sustainable exploration — read: A moon base to serve as an intermediary step to a Mars base. NASA chose the project name because Artemis is a sibling of Apollo, and one of her symbols is the moon. Duesemann's ground-based goals could be just as lofty as NASA's, hence the mythological connection. Or he might just like the bow-hunting goddess of deer and cypress trees.

Anyway, Alex Hitzinger will run Artemis and build a team to carry out the mission. Hitzinger spent years with motorsports heavyweights like Toyota, Ford, Cosworth, and Red Bull Technologies. He ran Porsche's World Endurance Championship team from 2015 to 2017, putting Le Mans and WEC silverware on the shelves at Weissach. The next stop was Apple, where he built and ran a group developing the autonomous vehicle rumored under the Project Titan banner. Hitzinger returned to VW last year to oversee autonomous driving programs and the ID.Buzz concept in VW's Commercial Vehicles division.

With the VW Group plotting 75 electric models across all of its brands by 2029, VW wants to become "as agile as in a racing team," removing the bureaucratic molasses and bottlenecks that interfere with getting the best product on the road in the best time. Its problems getting the VW ID.3 launched make the concern even more urgent and have led to a CEO shuffle at the VW brand and Porsche as well. Electric cars and autonomous driving are the priorities for Artemis, the team also plotting "an extensive ecosystem around the car, thus designing a new business model for the entire usage phase." The initial success (or not) of Artemis will be seen in the electric vehicle that could come to market in four years.

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