Tesla is 'two years ahead' of everyone else says Audi boss
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It's not every day that you'll hear a boss in the motoring world talk up their competition. So when it happens, it's an invitation to sit up and take notice.
One of the biggest groundswells in the premium-car market is in regards to EVs. In the last three years, every premium manufacturer has either created a new fully-electric car, pledged to make electric cars a big part of its immediate future, or both.
It could be argued that many of Audi's electrified projects have been accelerated by the commercial implications of Volkswagen Group's 'Dieselgate' scandal. But, the emergence and successes of Tesla have had a lot to do with the spike in EV activity in Europe, too.
Audi recently gained a new CEO in Markus Deusmann, who took up the role on April 1 earlier this year. Speaking to German outlet Handelsblatt, Duesmann said that Tesla weren't just ahead of the pack in regards to battery tech, but also autonomy and software.
“Currently, Tesla has larger batteries because their cars are built around the batteries," Duesmann said. "Tesla is two years ahead in terms of computing and software architecture, and in autonomous driving as well.
"In Artemis we bring together all specialists who work on the most modern technologies. It will be a centre of excellence that we have never had before."
While the e-tron's closest rival, the Mercedes-Benz EQC, has struggled to sell in numbers in Germany, the e-tron has been much more of a success. Almost 500 were sold in its first month of sales at home, compared to the EQC's 19. The e-tron has gone on to be the best-selling electric SUV in Europe, edging the aforementioned Mercedes, the Tesla Model X, and more.
Audi has been impacted adversely by the current Covid-19 pandemic. Along with a sales decline, it was forced to temporarily halt e-tron production due to battery supply issues. Duesmann says things are picking up, but he doesn't expect a return to normal until 2023.
“We certainly expect the coronavirus crisis to have longer-term effects”, he added. “We have had a very difficult second quarter. Things are slowly picking up, but not as a sharp ‘V’ as one would wish for."