Audi's autonomous driving project will likely be laid to rest this month so that the automaker can focus on other software developments.
According to a report from Automotive News, Volkswagen Group CEO Oliver Blume is likely to scrap Project Artemis, Audi's self-driving project, in order for the Group to focus on other software developments. The change in direction is expected to be announced by Blume at a supervisory board meeting on December 15. This comes after Blume's predecessor, Herbert Diess, was ousted for making little progress with VW's Cariad software subsidiary. The problems at Cariad led to numerous VW Group vehicles being delayed by years.
Instead of devoting too many resources to the self-driving dream, Blume is expected to announce a new roadmap for the Group's software goals, but that does not mean that autonomous Audis won't happen.
Volkswagen still believes that self-driving cars will be mainstream by 2030, and Audi will benefit from its efforts, but the Ingolstadt-based brand will only introduce the tech at some point in the second half of the decade.
The report goes on to say that the new software roadmap will see the Group's 1.1 and 1.2 software platforms continue development, with the latter to be renamed "Software Premium." According to the German business paper Handelsblatt, this will be ready for use by Audi and Porsche by the end of the decade, while the VW Group's mass-market brands will make use of the 1.1 platform. Volkswagen is also expected to employ the Software Premium system for its flagship Trinity EV project, which insiders claim will launch as a crossover rather than a sedan.
Basically, Blume is trying to fix the software mess left by his predecessor (in May, the VW Group's supervisory board called for a new Cariad roadmap after years of delays and overspending), and Audi's Project Artemis will initially suffer as a result.
However, a new vehicle architecture developed by Porsche will launch in 2026 for the Group's premium brands. Called SSP61, this will underpin Audi's new electric flagship models under the Artemis banner, which are codenamed Landjet and Landyacht. The same platform will first be seen under an electric Porsche Panamera, but it will also be used for a range-topping all-electric SUV above the Cayenne. SSP61 will be a sportier take on the Scalable Systems Platform (SSP) that the VW Group announced last year.
It seems that the Volkswagen Group is still determined to develop autonomous cars as it aims to dethrone Tesla, but these developments come after a number of other enterprises in the self-driving space have shown immense declines in their rate of progress. Argo AI, the autonomous tech startup backed by VW and Ford, shut down recently, with spiraling costs blamed. Similarly, Hyundai-backed Motional has just begun laying off staff.
Electric cars have come a long way in recent times - just look at the fantastic Audi RS e-tron GT - but while self-driving cars have not stagnated, they do not appear to be as close as automakers initially hoped.