Audi has created a new business unit it calls Artemis. Its purpose is to bring electric vehicles equipped with highly automated driving systems and other advanced technology to market faster, according to TechCrunch. Normally, new cars have a 5- to 7-year gestation period that involves preliminary designs, crafting a business case, lining up suppliers, and reconfiguring factories. Audi hopes to speed up that process with Artemis. As usual, anything one part of the Volkswagen organization does transfers to all the other parts of the corporate empire.
The first assignment for Artemis will be to “develop a pioneering model for Audi quickly and unbureaucratically,” said Audi head Markus Duesmann in a statement on May 29. The goal is to design and produce what Audi describes as a “highly efficient electric car” as early as 2024.
Readers may be scratching their heads and wondering what Artemis brings to the table that Volkswagen Group didn’t already have, particularly in light of its multi-billion dollar investment in self-driving startup Argo AI last year. A few days ago, VW announced that it and new partner Ford will work on finding new ways of incorporating Argo AI technology in the vehicles they are developing together.
Artemis will be led by Alex Hitzinger, who headed Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID), the self-driving subsidiary that was launched by Audi in 2017 to develop autonomous vehicle technology for the Volkswagen Group. AID has been absorbed into the European headquarters of Argo AI. Artemis will be based at the Audi tech hub at its Ingolstadt headquarters. The expectation is that Artemis will make VW Group a more agile automaker that can bring new and technologically advanced vehicles to market more quickly.
“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,” Duesmann said. Apparently, adding yet another layer of bureaucracy is just the ticket for Audi’s dilemma. What does Artemis add that VW doesn’t already have? It’s an excellent question and one with no apparent answer.
Sporty Electric SUV Coming From Nissan?
Nissan was one of the early leaders in the electric car revolution, but that was a decade ago. In the intervening 10 years, it has done little to leverage its EV technology or break new ground technologically. Now there are hints it may have a performance oriented electric SUV waiting in the wings. The proof, sources like Gear Patrol say, is contained in a 3-second long segment of this look at future products from Nissan in a recent YouTube video.
That’s pretty thin, but we do know the company has been working on the Ariya electric concept car for some time and it was on display at CES this year. We also know the SUV market is white hot. The three bestselling vehicles that aren’t pickup trucks in the US are the Toyota RAV4, the Nissan Rogue, and the Honda CR-V. The Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape, and Jeep Cherokee are also solidly in the Top 20 in US sales. The new electric SUV offerings are here (Tesla Model Y) or on their way shortly (Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volkswagen ID.4). So if Nissan wants to play in that pool, it better get busy or get left behind. Rumors suggest the car, whatever it is called, won’t be in showrooms until late 2021.
When it gets here, expect it to have a range of more than 300 miles and 0-60 acceleration times of around 5 seconds. It better have a liquid battery cooling system, too, or it will be a non-starter in US and global markets. Some quick fast-charging times will be necessary as well. The new Nissan is said to have the interior space of a midsize Nissan Murano, but the footprint of the compact Nissan Rogue.
Nissan is in big trouble these days. It needs this new electric SUV to be a sales success. If it isn’t, we may soon be consigning the company to the dustbin of history along with such well known brands as Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, and many, many others. These are fraught times for automakers, what with the high cost of developing electric cars and autonomous technology amidst a sharp drop in global sales numbers. Will we be saying sayonara to Nissan next?
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