At the end of May this year, Audi presented its Artemis project for the development of new technologies for electric, highly automated driving. Now it seems that the flagship model developed as part of the project will bear the title of the A9 e-tron and could be launched on the market by 2024.
As Autocar magazine reports, the purely electric luxury sedan developed under the internal code E6 is to be inspired by the Aicon concept car presented in 2017. The E6 is supposed to represent state of the art in terms of e-drive, battery cells, automated driving and 5G connectivity. This flagship model should compete with the Mercedes Benz EQS and the Jaguar XJ.
Back in 2017, when Audi presented the study at the IAA, the AIcon concept was supposed to do without either a steering wheel or pedals. At the time, Audi underscored its ambition for full autonomy with an interior that resembled a lounge rather than a car. The concept’s four electric motors should amount to 256 kW of power. The battery was conceived with a range of 800 km and inductive charging capability.
Now, Autocar claims to have learned the possible sales designation A9 e-tron from sources at Audi’s home base in Ingolstadt, Germany. According to other unnamed insiders, the vehicle is said to be a sports sedan or a four-door coupe (known in Audi language as a Sportback). The car is said to be about the size of an A7, but because of the advantages of the electric drive, the sources say it will have the space of an A8 in the interior.
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Artemis is considered one of the first important projects to be pushed by the new Audi boss Markus Duesmann, who wants to rebuild Audi into an innovative brand. Most recently, Audi has increasingly had to share its role as the group’s leading technology brand with Porsche. The upcoming e-tron GT will take over the platform of the Porsche Taycan and the Q4 e-tron is based on the MEB and is also built by VW in Zwickau. Audi also has to work with Porsche on the new PPE platform for large electric cars.
For this reason, Artemis is to be located outside Audi’s regular development department to be brought to fruition as quickly as possible – or as Duesmann puts it, Artemis will be allowed to “quickly and unbureaucratically create technologies for electric and highly automated driving”. Alex Hitzinger heads the project’s developers and software experts. As a former motorsport engineer, Hitzinger knows how to achieve a result under time pressure. Time will tell whether this can also be transferred to electric and highly automated driving.
The A9 e-tron will not be the product bearing the fruits of the labour undertaken at Artemis, the technology developed should also to be transferred to other electric models. Autocar maintains that Artemis has also been given the task of advancing other existing Audi projects such as a high-tech successor to the original A2, as revealed with the 2019 AI:ME concept car.
With the new organisation, Duesmann wants to remain competitive in a changing industry. Companies such as Tesla, but also start-ups such as Lucid Motors or Rivian, work with significantly smaller and more agile teams. If the Artemis test run is successful, this could have significant consequences for Audi and the entire VW group.
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