Audi hopes to develop an all-new autonomous electric car by 2024, but its boss admits they're already behind.
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Audi's new CEO believes Tesla has a major head-start on the rest of the automotive industry, admitting his company has some catching up to do in the electric car space.

Markus Duesmann, who took the helm at Audi on April 1, 2020, said Elon Musk's company is "two years ahead" of Audi when it comes to the development of in-car software, autonomous capabilities and battery technology.

“Currently, Tesla has larger batteries because their cars are built around the batteries," Mr Duesmann said in an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt,

"Tesla is two years ahead in terms of computing and software architecture, and in autonomous driving as well."

Mr Duesmann said the newly established 'Artemis' project – a research program overseen by a team of automotive and technology experts – was seeking to address this discrepancy by fast-tracking the development of an all-new autonomous, electrified Audi car by 2024.

"In Artemis we bring together all specialists who work on the most modern technologies," Duesmann said. "It will be a centre of excellence that we have never had before."

According to Reuters, he also revealed Audi is targeting 40,000 sales of its E-Tron badged electric cars globally by the end of 2020, after selling more than 17,000 units in the first six months of the year – an increase of 86.8 percent on 2019.

According to recent sales figures from Audi, the E-Tron SUV is the top-selling fully electric SUV in Europe, beating out competitors like Tesla's Model X, the Mercedes-Benz EQC and the Jaguar I-Pace.

However, the Audi boss also acknowledged the coronavirus pandemic had created challenges he believes the automotive industry is unlikely to recover from until at least 2022 or even 2023.

“We certainly expect the coronavirus crisis to have longer-term effects”, Mr Duesmann said.

“We have had a very difficult second quarter. Things are slowly picking up, but not as a sharp ‘V’ as one would wish for."The Volkswagen Group, Audi's parent company, is planning to roll out a total of 75 ID-badged electric models across its brands by 2029, with 20 fully electric models planned for Audi alone by 2025.At its unveiling in June 2020, Mr Duesmann said Audi's Artemis Project would work independently from these existing efforts to implement "additional additional high-tech benchmarks without jeopardizing the manageability of existing projects".