Volkswagen solved its Bugatti problem by merging the French carmaker with Croatia-based Rimac. Both companies will face the regulatory challenges of the 2020s together, but hastily putting the Chiron out to pasture and lazily resorting to badge engineering isn’t an option, according to the man in charge of the newly-formed group.
“I’m a car guy. We will not just recycle what we have — not restyle the Chiron or hybridize the Chiron. We’re developing a completely new product from the ground up. Everything, because we think that’s the best way to go. That product will have an internal combustion engine,” said Mate Rimac in an interview with Auto Express.
In a separate interview with Autocar, he added that “what some people expect might happen is that we take a Nevera and slam a Bugatti logo on it and call it a Bugatti.” He stressed “that’s absolutely not going to happen.”
Whether that internal combustion engine will be the thunderous W16 that powers the Chiron, among several other cars, remains to be seen. Rumors occasionally puff out of the auto industry’s chimney claiming the unit will retire when the Chiron does. Regardless, an internal combustion engine won’t power Bugatti’s next models on its own. Hybrid technology will gradually appear to increase horsepower and acceleration times while improving fuel efficiency.
Of course, the whole point of putting Bugatti under Rimac’s roof is to give the former access to the latter’s electric technology. Some degree of technology transfer is inevitable, though the partnership may take time to bear fruits.
“I’ll say that, within this decade, there will be a fully electric Bugatti. But, by the end of this decade, there will be combustion-engined Bugatti models as well, but heavily hybridized,” Mate Rimac said. While “Bugatti is going electric” is likely to be the main takeaway, Rimac’s comments also confirm that a multi-model range is in the pipeline. Auto Express speculated one way Bugatti could credibly expand beyond the hypercar segment is to release a sedan.
Finally, Rimac played down concerns that Bugatti and Rimac will ultimately overlap.
“Bugatti is about heritage and craftsmanship; Rimac focuses on technology. It’s like Bugatti being an analog Swiss watch, and Rimac cars being an Apple watch,” he said. “We can have two parallel, very distinct product lines.”