Audi Artemis project: When will it launch, and would it be an ultra-premium car?

Audi’s Artemis project gives us a slice of what an autonomous driving future may look like

The German company goes shooting for the stars

by : Daryl Lee

Audi’s announcement of Project Artemis couldn’t have come at a worse time. You see, it happened in late May last year, right around the time many carmakers were emerging a little bleary-eyed from factory shutdowns imposed as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The talk on everyone’s lips back then was how badly the pandemic (which unless a miracle happens, is still ongoing) would affect their bottom line for 2020 and how quick, if at all, the recovery would be.

Understandably, the news of Project Artemis got a little lost in the hubbub, which is a little sad, because it’s incredibly exciting. Then-newly-installed CEO Markus Duesmann announced he would be creating a business division within Audi that would report to him directly, tasked to “develop a pioneering model for Audi quickly and unbureaucratically”.

Which we take to mean developing a car (or cars) with all the gusto and can-do spirit of a startup, but with the virtually limitless clout of Audi and parent company the Volkswagen Group behind it.

Audi’s then newly installed CEO Markus Duesmann announced he would be creating a business division that would report to him directly.

The man tasked with heading up that global team is Alex Hitzinger, the mastermind behind Porsche’s triumphant return to top-flight endurance racing in 2015 and who up until 2018 was a senior member of Apple’s self-driving electric car team.

As for when Project Artemis would yield its first car, or what form it could take is a bigger question, though given Hitzinger’s track record in Apple, and his most recent stint as head of Volkswagen’s autonomous car and car-sharing division. However, it’s pretty safe bet it would be in the ultra-premium segment, according to a few nuggets revealed by Audi’s design chief Marc Lichte in an interview a couple of months ago.

But what of a spiritual successor to its incredibly innovative, incredibly frugal (and incredibly expensive, which pretty much led to its sales failure) aluminium-bodied A2 city car of the early-2000s?

After all, it does play right into Hitzinger’s expertise in Mobility-As-A-Service (car-sharing, basically), and Project Artemis’ remit of “utilising new opportunities in the markets”.