Volkswagen Group launches ‘Mission T’ to take on Tesla

The conglomerate is planning an electric assault, lead by Audi.

The CEO of the Volkswagen Group has announced the company’s plans to launch an electric assault known as ‘Mission T’ in an effort to “catch up” with its key rival, Tesla.

In a LinkedIn post titled How we transform Volkswagen, CEO Herbert Diess detailed a strategy to challenge the American electric car maker at its own game, to be spearheaded by Audi’s Artemis development project.

Mr Diess said 31 Volkswagen Group executives had met earlier in 2020 to discuss the key question: “What do we have to achieve in the next six months to catch up with Tesla in terms of technology by 2024?”

As a result, the not-so-subtly-named ‘Mission T’ was born to accelerate the group’s electric vehicle offerings by “pooling software and hardware resources at Audi under the leadership of [Audi CEO] Markus Duesmann and the Artemis project”.

Part of this plan was to reorganise the company into new units, dismantling the company’s “corporate structures” which Mr Diess said “prevent us matching the development speed and capacities of a well-funded and unbureaucratic startup like Tesla”.

Audi’s Artemis Project was announced in June 2020 as a dedicated initiative to “focus on new technologies for electric, highly automated driving” without taking up resources or jeopardising existing projects.

“Artemis and the software organisation are the foundations on which we can build the technology, especially digital technology, we need for the Group as a whole,” Mr Diess said.

“This will turn our cars into digital devices that will offer mobility customers unprecedented new options, safety, comfort and sustainability.”

The Volkswagen Group – which is comprised of 12 brands including Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda, Porsche, Lamborghini and Bentley – plans to sell 26 million pure electric vehicles across its brands by 2029.

While Volkswagen Group is getting competitive, it appears Tesla is happy to be a little more collaborative – at least, that’s according to recent remarks from Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

After Mr Musk accepted the Axel Springer Award for innovation in Germany, Axel Springer CEO Mathias Dopfner reportedly asked the Tesla founder whether Tesla would ever seriously consider buying an existing automaker.

Mr Musk responded by implying the company would be more amenable to a partnership rather than a full takeover.

“We are definitely not going to launch a hostile takeover, but if somebody said it would be a good idea to merge with Tesla, we would have this conversation,” Mr Musk said.

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