FRANKFURT: Alexander Hitzinger, a 49-year-old engineer who defected to Apple after serving to to develop Porsche’s successful 919 racecar, has been lured again to Volkswagen Group for maybe his largest problem but – constructing an electrical automotive to tackle Tesla.
While Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker, has been rolling out electrical autos from the ID.three compact to the excessive finish Porsche Taycan, analysts say it wants a extra complete system that integrates electrical energy with new self-driving and infotainment applied sciences if it hopes to overhaul Tesla.
It has turned to Hitzinger, whose capability to conceptualise clean-sheet designs and handle initiatives helped Porsche develop a racecar that gained the Le Mans endurance race in 2015, 2016, 2017.
After a stint engaged on Apple’s autonomous automobiles, Hitzinger now heads up Volkswagen’s “Project Artemis”, named after the Ancient Greek goddess of looking, with the goal of chasing down electrical automotive pioneer Tesla.
“At Porsche, I always thought of a vehicle as a comprehensive system. This is a very important point. It is what Tesla does well,” he defined in a video interview.
The process of constructing a automotive has gotten extra complicated with the appearance of electrical and autonomous driving applied sciences, forcing new battery-driven powertrains to compete for electrical energy with digital camera, radar, and lidar sensors, plus infotainment techniques.
Rather than stitching collectively individually designed techniques, Artemis desires to create one thing new and seamlessly built-in, from the bottom up, Hitzinger advised Reuters.
“The idea behind Artemis is to have a comprehensive understanding of the vehicle. When something is optimised, this has knock-on effects and these need to be understood.”
Allocating processing energy between propulsion, automated driving and infotainment techniques corresponding to satellite tv for pc navigation and music streaming is a key problem, he mentioned.
But it’s not the one one.
“The human-machine interface, the interior design, the exterior design, aerodynamics and the range are all interconnected. If I modify something on the exterior, it will impact the aerodynamics and the efficiency,” Hitzinger mentioned.
Volkswagen Group, whose manufacturers vary from price range Seats and Skodas to high-end Audis and Bentleys is now focussing on growing techniques that may deal with all these new calls for.
The automotive, which is because of be produced in 2024, will make use of parts developed for Porsche and Audi’s premium electrical car platform, PPE. The group’s manufacturing unit in Hanover, Germany, is being retooled to construct an electrical sport-utility car for Audi, Bentley and Porsche.
Having a small crew of extremely certified engineers, who’re empowered to take selections unencumbered by the company forms of the Volkswagen empire, ought to find yourself producing a greater car extra rapidly.
Project Artemis may have between 200 and 250 workers as soon as Hitzinger is completed hiring, up from 10 at current.
“I am putting the team together on a top down basis. The managers come first. Then I look for A-players, who will attract other A-players. I don’t want managers, but people who love to develop technologies, who are prepared to take risks,” he mentioned.
Artemis will search to attract on present abilities throughout the Volkswagen Group, corresponding to experience in making car our bodies at Audi, however take the lead in growing new strategies which pace up manufacturing and enhance the shopper expertise.
“We want to set new standards for what a customer can do in a vehicle and how he interacts with the car,” Hitzinger mentioned.
He declined to elaborate on what person experiences the brand new automotive would provide, citing the confidential nature of the challenge.
He additionally declined to touch upon an influence battle unfolding at Volkswagen, which has convened its government committee to fulfill on Tuesday to resolve whether or not to increase CEO Herbert Diess’s contract.