Bugatti could change ownership after more than 20 years; Bentley and Lambo could leave VW too

Revived in 1987 by Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli, Bugatti was acquired by the Volkswagen Group in 1998. Under German ownership, the French brand introduced the Veyron and the Chiron, as well as a handful of one-off supercars, all powered by massive W-16 engines with more than 1,000 horsepower. Come 2020 and Bugatti could be sold off, and rumor has it the French company may end up with Rimac Automobili, the Croatian firm that produces electric supercars, drivetrains, and battery systems.

Why Is Volkswagen Ditching Bugatti?

Bugatti Could Soon Be Sold Off to Rimac
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The news comes from a scoop by Car Magazine, which claims that the "VW Group is on the verge of offloading Bugatti to Croatian electromobility powerhouse Rimac Automobili." But why is the German giant looking to get rid of the brand that the late Ferdinand Piech brought to VW and revived it to pre-WWII glory?

Well, it seems that the Volkswagen Group no longer wants to pour money into the luxury performance brand. And this makes sense in 2020, when small-volume "hobby" brands are no longer sustainable, especially when big gas-guzzling powerplants power their products. Bugatti’s may cost in excess of $2 million, but that’s not enough to keep the brand profitable, it seems. But Volkswagen doesn’t just want to get rid of Bugatti. The goal is to actually obtain a bigger share in Rimac through Porsche.

Bugatti Could Soon Be Sold Off to Rimac
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The Stuttgart based brand is already a secondary shareholder at Rimac, having purchased a 10-percent share in 2018 and another 5.5 percent in 2019.

The Camel Group and a Chinese investor are also listed as secondary shareholders in the Croatian brand, but Hyundai, Jaguar, Koenigsegg, and Magna have also invested in this company. Word has it the Volkswagen Group wants to transfer Bugatti to Rimac via Porsche, which in exchange would get a bigger share in the company. Rimac isn’t yet publicly traded, as its founder, Mate Rimac, is holding a 51-percent majority interest.

But why is Porsche so interested in Rimac? Well, the Croatian company, which focuses on electric powertrains for more than ten years now, provides the EV systems with the highest power and the highest energy density. In short, Rimac technology could help Porsche better compete with Tesla in Europe.

The deal would also help Rimac produce the C_Two hypercar

2019 Rimac C Two Exterior
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If Rimac buys Bugatti, it will gain access to the brand's state of the art factory in Molsheim, France. Mate Rimac visited the facility in July 2020, so there are some signs of interest

. While Bugatti’s facility wasn’t designed for high-volume output, it would be the perfect setup for the C_Two. Rimac opened a new facility in Croatia for the electric supercar, but a retooled Molsheim factory could help the company increase output. What’s more, by retooling the said facility, Bugatti could finally step into the EV market with an all-electric successor to the Chiron.

The C_Two is said to arrive with a whopping 1,888 horsepower and a top speed in excess of 250 mph, so Rimac definitely has what it takes to build an electric Bugatti that would match or ever surpass the performance of the W-16-powered Chiron.

Bugatti isn’t the only brand that may leave the VW Group

2019 Lamborghini Urus Exterior
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2019 Lamborghini Urus
Lambo’s first SUV since the LM002 was discontinued in 1993 with just 328 models produced

The same report says that the Volkswagen Group is considering selling other brands as well. At least three car brands are being considered, including Lamborghini, Bentley, and Seat. Lamborghini is currently offering two supercar, the Aventador and Huracan, and an SUV, the Urus, but it’s also rolling out limited-edition models from time to time. But the brand is doing quite well, with annual sales having jumped from 5,750 units in 2018 to more than 8,000 vehicles in 2019. Bentley is the group’s luxury brand, a competitor for Rolls-Royce, and produces three models: the Continental GT, Flying Spur, and the Bentayga. Seat, on the other hand, is an entry-level brand that shares almost everything with Volkswagen. Word has it Seat may be repositioned by merging with Cupra, its performance division, which is due to become the lead marque.

The VW Group could also get rid of Ital Design, an Italian design firm that penned some iconic cars over the years, but recent work mostly includes mundane production cars from China and some concepts. Finally, Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati, purchased in 2012, could also be sold off. Both Ital Design and Ducati are owned through Lamborghini.

When will this happen and how much is Bugatti worth?

Bugatti Could Soon Be Sold Off to Rimac
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Sources say Volkswagen Group executives have already approved the deal, but it has yet to be signed by the supervisory board. If signed, the current Bugatti CEO, Stephan Winkelmann, is likely to leave the company. If the deal goes forward, Bugatti could change ownership by the end of 2020. The French company is reportedly worth around €500 million in today’s depressed market, which converts to around $590 million as of September 2020.

Source: Car Magazine

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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