Mr Duesmann, you had to wait a long time before you were allowed to take over the chairmanship of Audi, then you took office exactly when the corona pandemic broke out. What is your conclusion after a year in office?
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It might sound a bit strange in these difficult times, but all in all I am very satisfied with the first year and what we have achieved! Despite Corona, we implemented everything as planned in our important projects. There is a new technology roadmap, we have made good progress in electromobility, have reorganized the entire technical development and reorganized the series. I also have the impression that a real team spirit has developed at Audi, even though I have never spoken to a large number of employees in person. To do this, we had to find digital alternatives.
At the start you were CEO, responsible for business in China and development. In the meantime you have already handed in tasks. Did you take on too much?
No. Our industry is undergoing a tremendous transformation away from combustion to electric motors. We do a good job in the here and now, but what does the future look like? That is why at Audi it was also about showing the way and at the same time getting the day-to-day business going further. The way is now clear, and my colleague on the board, Oliver Hoffmann, is now in charge of the development department.
Of all things, your lighthouse project “Artemis”, with which you launched the attack on Tesla, is said to have been delayed by months.
That is not right. With our lighthouse project we want to make a giant leap in terms of software and automated driving and are now going into pre-series development. The fact that the project is now moving into series production is a completely normal process.
Under “Artemis”, a luxurious electric sedan is planned above the Audi A8, which can then compete with the latest Tesla Model S. When is it that time?
The model should be presented at the end of 2024, that’s the plan, and we’re doing everything to achieve this. We will show a concept from the Artemis project later this year, and then you can see for yourself how far we have come.
Already at the IAA – if there is an auto show in Munich at all?
I wish there was one in the planned format. But the pandemic is so unpredictable that honestly, my confidence is currently limited.
Are you more confident about the new, electric and partly self-driving Audis? Time and again there are major difficulties in the VW group with the model launches, the most recent example is the ID 3 electric car.
We are currently radically converting the electrical system in our new vehicles. It is an enormous challenge. The software has gained in relevance and dictates the development of the entire car. In a sense, it is the nervous system. So far Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen have developed their own software solutions, but now we are pooling our competencies and pooling our strengths. At the same time, we are developing so many vehicles in the Group that it will quickly expand, but we have to align our development with the speed of software. That’s the challenge.
The devil is in the software?
No not that. Software is crucial for the future, and we will use what we develop at Artemis, for example, for all subsequent projects. We have that under control, but the development of a car has to be approached differently today than it was a few years ago.
There is currently speculation about the entry of the tech giant Apple into car production, the Californians are already looking for a partner. When do you expect the Apple Car?
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