The Volkswagen Group is developing a new flagship electric vehicle for three of its premium brands, according to a report from German newspaper Handelsblatt.
Codenamed 'Landjet', development of the top-rung electric car is reportedly being led by Audi's autonomous- and electric-focused Artemis division, and is slated to be aimed squarely at a potential next-generation version of the Tesla Model S.
While Audi may be leading development of the Landjet, the Bentley and Porsche brands will reportedly each receive their own versions of the flagship model, with production of one or more variants to commence in 2024.
Above: Porsche's current flagship electric car, the Taycan (above). Top and bottom of story: Audi Aicon concept from 2017.
Handelsblatt reports the Landjet will take the shape of a sedan, yet will offer three rows of seats, a feature far more commonly associated with an SUV body style. However, it's worth noting the Landjet's main rival, the aforementioned Tesla Model S, once offered a pair of rear-facing 'jump seats' with five-point harnesses behind the second row, before being discontinued in late 2018.
Industry publication Automotive News adds the flagship could offer a driving range of upwards of 650km, and seating for seven within its three rows.
According to Handelsblatt, the Landjet's dimensions are too large to fit on the assembly lines in Audi's existing factories, instead forcing production of the flagship EV and its variants to Volkswagen's plant in Hanover, which is currently home to production of larger vehicles like the Volkswagen Transporter van, Multivan people mover and, in 2022, the Kombi-inspired ID. Buzz.
Above: Bentley's current flagship sedan, the V8- and W12-powered Flying Spur.
The German publication's report aligns with a report from British publication Autocar earlier this year, which suggested Audi's Artemis division was working on a flagship electric four-door – codenamed 'E6', but potentially dubbed A9 E-Tron upon reaching production – combining the exterior dimensions of the A7 Sportback with the interior space of the range-topping A8 limousine, due in 2024.
Bentley recently confirmed it would launch its first all-electric vehicle in 2025, lending further validity to Handelsblatt's sources.
However, Volkswagen last week announced production of "three fully electric D-SUV [mid-size] models for other Group brands" at the Hanover plant. While not confirmed, it's possible these three crossovers are in fact the Landjet models reported by Handelsblatt – thus suggesting the rumoured seven-seat layout would be packaged into a high-riding body style after all.
Above: a prototype of Audi's upcoming E-Tron GT electric sedan.
Regardless of the body style – sedan or SUV – the Landjet adopts, expect it to serve as the technological flagship for the wider Volkswagen Group, offering its latest semi-autonomous driving systems and connectivity technologies, the latter including Car-to-X functionality and support for 5G networks, augmented reality tech and over-the-air updates.
The three vehicles set to be spun out of Audi Artemis' Landjet project are expected to begin rolling off the assembly line sometime in 2024.