The previously standalone division aims to challenge Tesla.
We've known for almost a year that Audi has been working on a secret all-electric project internally called Project Artemis. The production car, due in 2024, will be no ordinary Audi. Now being called Landjet by company officials, this new model aims to outdo Tesla in every way imaginable, from battery tech and range to autonomous driving capabilities. In short, Audi wants to create the new gold standard of all-electric and self-driving vehicles.
The German automaker has just announced the project has now entered a new phase. Development of the new high-tech flagship has been moved entirely in-house instead of operating as sort of a standalone division.
Previously led by Alex Hitzinger, whose past work included stints at Apple regarding its own car project and at Porsche where he led the Le Mans LMP1 program, Landjet is now being led by Audi's technical chief Oliver Hoffmann. Hitzinger isn't leaving Audi but will soon take on a new role.
"Modern working methods, software-based tools and targeted processes are the key for turning ideas into innovations quickly and efficiently. Today this is more important than ever. We are therefore pleased that Artemis GmbH with its extensive know-how in these disciplines will work even more closely and directly with Technical Development at Audi in the future," said Hoffmann.
Project Artemis, or Learjet, is widely expected to morph into the Audi A9 e-tron once it goes on sale. In addition to the Tesla Model S Plaid, its other main target will be the just-revealed Mercedes-Benz EQS. What Audi didn't state in its press release announcing the project's updated status is why is this change even happening. The whole point of appointing Hitzinger and his specialized team was to keep the project and future production version moving at a steady pace with minimal outside interference.
A reasonable guess is that things weren't moving as fast as Audi and VW Group senior management would have liked. Time is money, after all.