Artemis hands over Landjet project / Hitzinger steps down

Artemis, which previously operated independently, is handing over the development of the autonomous driving electric car to Audi and the software development to VW’s software forge Cariad. Audi officially confirmed the news. In the course of this reorientation, Alexander Hitzinger will hand over the management of Artemis GmbH to Oliver Hoffmann.

The first hints that the Artemis project was being restructured had already leaked out in February. Now Audi has issued an official announcement. It states that Artemis GmbH is to be moved closer to Audi’s Technical Development. As usual in such press releases, the strategy change is flanked with a lot of praise: Alexander Hitzinger’s team has set up the development of the innovative Artemis model outside of learned structures and processes and laid the foundation for future-proof technologies in the concept phase together with Cariad and Audi AG, it says from Audi headquarters.

“Now the project team will take a new course. As a center of competence for fast, modern development processes, Artemis GmbH will move even closer to Audi’s Technical Development and reinforce the new innovation management,” it says. The subsidiary is now to “concentrating all of its efforts on methods, tools and processes, in order to create a blueprint for software-driven vehicle development”. Audi named Oliver Hoffmann, who has been the company’s board member for technical development since March, as the new managing director of Artemis GmbH.

De facto, the Artemis project based at Audi, which was supposed to develop a premium electric sedan by 2024, is being recaptured. Although Audi only made the Artemis taskforce a separate company with project manager Alex Hitzinger as managing director in December, the turn-about is already following. In the current announcement, Audi speaks of the “successful conclusion of the concept phase” for the model repeatedly called “Landjet” in reports. Now responsibility for further vehicle development will be handed over to Audi and for software development to Cariad. Alexander Hitzinger will prepare for a new task, according to the company.

“We would like to thank Alexander Hitzinger for his commitment to the early phase of our Artemis model. Without this work, coupled with his experience and his know-how, the vehicle would not be delivered to our customers in 2025,” said Markus Duesmann, CEO of AUDI AG, according to the statement. The former motorsport developer was entrusted with the Artemis project by Audi CEO Markus Duesmann (who also has a motorsport background) partly because he does not think in terms of the usual restrictions of series production.

According to media reports from February, however, this is precisely what disqualified him. Media reports at the time wrote without citing specific sources, that Hitzinger had been “disappointing” in Ingolstadt. He was said to have introduced too many wishes and ideas that were not suitable for profitable series production. Even more importantly, the car manufacturer is said to have realised “that individual models were not enough against Tesla.” The Volkswagen Group will therefore pursue a large-scale platform strategy instead, which we described in more detail back in February. However, the information on this has so far only been based on media reports. However, the first consequence of the strategic change is now becoming clear: the Artemis project is losing its autonomy.

Incidentally, in February, Artemis still described the portrayal in Manager Magazin as “very abbreviated” when asked by “Artemis was founded as an incubator and accelerator and operates as an independent GmbH in a protected space,” a spokesperson said. “Development cycles are significantly shortened by the innovative development methods, processes and tools that are applied. This has a pioneering function for the entire group.” The first model “with valuable ideas from this tech company” will be launched in 2024, he said. “Customer focus is the essential and decisive guiding principle,” the spokesperson continued. “This will then include, where appropriate, the design and development of an ecosystem.” The spokesperson did not comment on the article’s specific statements that the development of the ‘Landjet’ would be back at Audi. Now we know why.

With reporting by Cora Werwitzke, France.


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