Audi is aiming to put itself at the head of the electric luxury car ranks with a new flagship model being developed by an in-house working group called Artemis.
Described as “a highly efficient electric car that is scheduled to be on the road as early as 2024”, the advanced Audi is an extension of the Aicon project showcased at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show.
The new electric flagship is set to be a direct rival to the upcoming Mercedes-Benz EQS and Jaguar XJ and have the latest in electric drivetrain, battery cell and autonomous driving technology. It will also have 5G connectivity functions, including extensive use of ‘car-to-X’ features, augmented reality and over-the-air upgrades.
The new model has the internal codename E6 and is in the early stages of development. Insiders suggest it will take the form of a sporting saloon or liftback. It is claimed to mirror the current A7 in external dimensions but offer the internal space of the larger A8. Sources at Audi’s Ingolstadt HQ in Germany suggest it could take the A9 E-tron name into production.
Once launched, it will act as a technical showcase for up to 75 electric cars and 60 plug-in hybrids already planned by Volkswagen Group brands such as Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen as part of its €60 billion (£53.8bn) electrification strategy through to 2029.
Audi has already revealed plans to launch up to 20 pure-electric and 10 plug-in hybrid models in a programme for which it has set aside up to €12bn (£10.8bn) of its planned €37bn (£33.1bn) R&D spend through to the end of 2024.
The Artemis working group is central to the plans of new Audi chairman Markus Duesmann to see the maker reclaim its reputation for technical leadership. Artemis will operate hand in hand with Audi’s regular development department as well as engineers and software experts from the wider group to “quickly and unbureaucratically create technologies for electric and highly automated driving”.
Artemis’s race-bred culture
Artemis is led by Alex Hitzinger. Currently head of the Volkswagen Group’s autonomous driving development, the 49-year-old German previously worked in Formula 1 with Red Bull Racing before heading up development of Porsche’s Le Mans-winning 919 LMP1 car. He also worked for Apple on its cancelled Project Titan electric car project and with Volkswagen’s commercial vehicles division on the production version of the Buzz – a modern-day reincarnation of the classic Microbus.
Duesmann said of the appointment of Hitzinger: “I am relying on his expertise to integrate future achievements into new products together with the development departments of our major group brands. In the medium term, I expect Artemis to provide a blueprint for a fast and agile development process at the group, as agile as in a racing team.”