Bugatti set for Porsche and Rimac ‘joint venture’

EV hypercar likely to result from a rejigged Bugatti brand…

By Sam Sheehan / Tuesday, March 16, 2021 / Loading comments

Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess has confirmed that Bugatti will likely transition into a joint venture overseen by Porsche and Rimac. During the group's annual media conference – which took place two weeks after Porsche increased its stake in Rimac from 15 to 24 per cent for £60 million – Diess said the "partnership is currently under discussion with Rimac", but rumours that the Croatian firm could take full control of the French hypercar brand are "not true".

While no additional information was relayed in the Q&A session, we can obviously expect Rimac to lend its expertise in high performance electric architecture to the venture, presumably to create the long-rumoured battery-powered Chiron successor. And, potentially, provide the base for a wider range of electric offerings, including its 'everyday vehicle' and a production version of the SUV concept that we were shown in 2019. Only last year, Bugatti CEO Stephan Winkelmann spoke of a growing need for Bugatti to offer products outside of the hypercar segment.

"The whole thing isn't yet finalised. What we want to do is transition responsibility of Bugatti to Porsche, and Porsche in all probability will establish a joint venture with Rimac, with a minority share of Porsche." How that relationship will work in detail is not yet apparent, needless to say – although Diess said later in the conference that his firm believes passing responsibility to Porsche will give Bugatti "an environment that's stronger than being here in Wolfsburg in the volume segment". He pointed to Porsche's existing "synergies", like "carbonfibre bodies and high-performance batteries", that are appropriate for the Bugatti project.

Rimac has established a well-oiled reputation as a supplier of both components and expertise to third-party manufacturers, but its involvement in Bugatti is likely to be deeper than that given Porsche's recent investment and the apex engineering status of the product. Either way, it suggests that Bugatti's future is highly likely to diverge from its established pattern of building W16-engined hypercars – a furrow it has ploughed since introducing the Veyron in 2005. Just don't expect the brand to become any less exclusive – or its cars, slower.

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