Ambitious projects typically have more than one important goal. That is precisely the case for Audi Artemis. The name seems to have been carefully chosen: Artemis is not only Apollo’s twin sister. It is also the goddess of childbirth. If you consider vehicles as automakers’ children, that makes a lot of sense. Apart from creating a highly efficient electric car for Audi, Artemis wants to allow it to deliver more of them in a faster and unbureaucratic way.
Markus Duesmann is the person responsible for setting the project up. Apart from becoming Audi’s CEO two months ago, he is also a Volkswagen Board of Management Member for Group Research. That implies that, if Artemis delivers results as planned, it could help all Volkswagen brands in the same fashion.
The man Duesmann chose to run the project is Alex Hitzinger. You may not have heard from him before, but you will probably not forget who he is from now on. He started his career at motorsports, where speed both for cars and vehicle development is known to be incredibly high.
He also joined Apple to establish and run the company’s autonomous car project until 2019, when he got back to Volkswagen and helped develop the ID.BUZZ. Hitzinger will answer directly to Duesmann, something that will already help make decisions much faster.
Artemis’ first goal is to create a highly efficient electric car that will be put for sale in 2024. Four years of development is more than current projects usually demand: most cars take around three years from the first ideas to production. In that sense, the Artemis project may seem contradictory, but we believe the first months will be spent in creating a fast process for development.
When that is ready, Artemis will dedicate to the car project, probably in record time. The fastest car project we ever heard about was the second-generation Fiat Bravo, also known as Type 198. It demanded 18 months to be completed.
More than the time for creating the car, our main interest is in what it will be. We bet on a vehicle with very low drag coefficient, light, and with a highly efficient powertrain. That will imply having a state-of-the-art battery pack and amazing electric motors.
The German manufacturer does not mention any other goal apart from speeding up development processes and delivering a very efficient electric car, but the main one is obvious. Audi wants to work as if it was not a legacy automaker to compete with emerging EV companies properly. Hitzinger started this task on June 1, and he has four years to make it work.
Markus Duesmann launches “Artemis” project
- New Audi CEO and Volkswagen Board of Management Member for Group Research and Development creates agile unit for additional car projects
- Alex Hitzinger will establish and manage “Artemis” in Ingolstadt with use of the Group’s resources and technologies
- Hitzinger’s team is to implement a new lighthouse project for Audi in record time
Two months after taking office as the new CEO at Audi, Markus Duesmann is setting up a unit for the accelerated development of additional automobile models. The head of the “Artemis” high-tech project will be Alex Hitzinger, a successful motorsport chief engineer and currently in charge of autonomous driving in the Group. He will work with a team of automotive and technology experts to – as a first step – “develop a pioneering model for Audi quickly and unbureaucratically,” says Duesmann. Resources and technologies of the entire Volkswagen Group are potentially available for this. Duesmann and his Volkswagen Group colleagues also expect the “Artemis” project to provide a blueprint for the future agile development of cars throughout the Volkswagen Group.
“The Volkswagen Group’s brands stand for excellent technologies – and have potential for much more,” said the Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, Markus Duesmann. “With 75 planned electric models by 2029, the current electric initiative at the Volkswagen Group naturally ties up all our capacities. The obvious question was how we could implement additional high-tech benchmarks without jeopardizing the manageability of existing projects, and at the same time utilize new opportunities in the markets.” The project team will be given a large degree of freedom and will work globally, from the high-tech hub of the INCampus in Ingolstadt to the west coast of the United States. Digital services will be provided by the Group’s own unit, car.Software.org, which is also based in Ingolstadt. “Artemis” will focus on new technologies for electric, highly automated driving with a specific model reference. Its first task is to create a highly efficient electric car that is scheduled to be on the road as early as 2024. The creative team will also develop an extensive ecosystem around the car, thus designing a new business model for the entire usage phase.
Alex Hitzinger will be the head of the “Artemis” project, reporting directly to Markus Duesmann as of June 1, 2020. Hitzinger was until now Board of Management Member for Technical Development at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, as well as Senior Vice President of the Volkswagen Group with responsibility for autonomous driving. “I value Alex Hitzinger for his strengths in innovation and implementation. We need both qualities to make major technological advances,” stated Audi CEO Duesmann, who also has overall responsibility for research and development at the Volkswagen Group. “I am also 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.”
Hitzinger started his automotive career as a development engineer at Toyota Motorsport. At Ford/Cosworth, he was the youngest chief development engineer in Formula 1. Under his leadership, the first Formula 1 engine with a speed range of up to 20,000 rpm was created in 2006. After Red Bull Technology, Hitzinger joined the Volkswagen Group for the first time and built up the highly successful motorsport team at Porsche that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Endurance World Championship from 2015 to 2017. After three years at Apple in Silicon Valley, where he set up and managed product development for autonomous vehicles, Hitzinger returned to the Volkswagen Group in 2019 to develop autonomous driving and the ID. BUZZ at VW Commercial Vehicles.