Bugatti’s Next New Model Could Be an All-Electric Daily Driver
Bugatti introduced a concept earlier this decade that fits into what we think this model could turn intoby Kirby Garlitos, on LISTEN 06:29
Hot on the heels of unveiling the world’s most expensive new car, Bugatti is already looking towards its next project, and it might not be what most people expect. A new hypercar is seen as the default answer to any queries about a new Bugatti, but this proposed model doesn’t fall under that classification. Instead of a hypercar, Bugatti is looking to introduce a second and far more affordable model to its lineup, one that is characterized as a best-in-segment daily driver. More importantly, it’s an electric vehicle. There’s still no timetable for this proposed model, in large part because Bugatti’s big wigs have yet to make a decision on the car. If it does get the green light, don’t expect this Bugatti to feature Chiron-level power. It’s still going to be fast and powerful, but it will also put premium importance on luxury and comfort. Could this be the time that we finally see Bugatti dust off the Galibier name and bring it to life?
An Electric Bugatti Car for the Masses...Kind Of
We’ve seen this song and dance from Bugatti before, haven’t we? I’m not talking about a battery-electric Bugatti because that’s fresh news. We’ve heard the automaker speak of the possibility of going the hybrid route in the past, but there hasn’t been any talk of the French automaker diving into full-on electrification until CEO Stephan Winkelmann brought up the possibility to Automotive News on the sidelines of the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. "I would see us doing a battery electric vehicle," he said. It’s not as emphatic of an answer as some of us would like it to be, but Winkelmann is acknowledging the very real possibility that Bugatti could now dip its toes in that market. An electric Bugatti in the modern times? We’d love to see what kind of model the automaker comes up with electrification serving as one of its biggest parameters.
We know that it won’t be hypercar, or at least one on the level of the Chiron, Divo, and the recently launched La Voiture Noire.
Instead, Winkelmann wants an electric Bugatti that not only balances performance and comfort but, more importantly, can also be driven daily.
In other words, Winkelmann wants a best-in-class daily driver with a top-line price to fit its billing. Speed won’t be a priority for this model because his vision for it is for future owners to enjoy it in spite of its performance capabilities.
A “daily driver” Bugatti is new territory for the automaker, which is why it sounds so appealing, not just for Bugatti, but for all of us who have watched the company turn into one of the world’s premiere performance car brands. We already know what Bugatti is capable of when it comes to speed and performance. The Veyron proved that. The Chiron is proving that. But what about a Bugatti that can, presumably, at least, line up against a Rolls-Royce Phantom or a Bentley Continental? If that’s the type of car Winkelmann is referring to, can Bugatti answer the challenge and develop a super luxury ride that can compete against the established titans of that segment?
It’s a challenging market, sure, but it’s also a bountiful one.
According to a Bugatti spokeswoman, the average Bugatti customer has 42 cars at home, and of those 42, at least two of them are Bugattis.
If the automaker ventures into a market occupied by Rolls-Royce and Bentley, it’s tapping into the same segment of buyers that probably have Bugattis in their respective garages already. And those types of buyers are growing by the year, too, at least according to Knight Frank’s 2019 Wealth Report. As per the report, billionaire populations in North America and Europe are growing by 17 percent and 18 percent, respectively. The Asian region is also experiencing its own billionaire boom as forecasts say that the continent will be home to 1,003 billionaires by 2003. The market Bugatti wants to tap with this new electric model is there, and most of them are probably waiting to give their money to Bugatti anyway.
Now, the question is: what kind of electric, top-of-the-line daily driver is Bugatti contemplating? Winkelmann didn’t elaborate on additional specifics about the cost, chassis, and performance of the potential car, opting only to say that the automaker has already begun analyzing the prospect.
Not that Bugatti needs my advice or anything, but if it wants to look into this, it can bring back the one concept vehicle it launched this decade: the Galibier 16C.
It’s been a while since we last heard about the Bugatti Galibier. It was exactly ten years go when the concept first came to life.
Bugatti initially wanted it to succeed the 1999 EB 218. Plans eventually faltered, and we haven’t heard about the Galibier since rumors circulated in 2017 that it was back on the table. If said plans are still on said table, Winkelmann’s comments about Bugatti’s plan to develop an electric daily driver may not be as fortuitous as it looks. It would be interesting to see if this planned sedan ends up using the Galibier concept as some sort of marker. Sure, the concept used a revised version of the Bugatti Veyron’s 8.0-liter W-16 engine, but it’s been so long since the concept first arrived in 2009 that advancements in electrification make it possible for Bugatti to recreate the Galibier using a completely different, and electric-leaning, platform. The automaker does have the support of the Volkswagen Group, so there are no resources that are out of reach in this regard, including the Premium Platform Electric architecture that Porsche, Bentley, and Audi all use.
The optics are pretty clear. Bugatti wants to build what we can only imagine is a super luxury sedan. The Galibier Concept was presented as such, albeit with a different powertrain. It would make sense for Bugatti to at least revisit the possibility, even if it doesn’t end up taking that route.
Unfortunately, none of this is a foregone conclusion. Winkelmann himself admits that the company is still analyzing the project. "Let’s see what we can do," he said. "I’m hoping for the best.” Even if it does happen, there are a lot of things that can alter the course of this project. Let the Galibier Concept and all the “will-it-or-wont-it” narrative serve as a cautionary tale. It also took Bentley and Lamborghini years to get the green light from the VW board to build the Bentayga and Urus SUVs, respectively. Even if Bugatti gets the nod, don’t expect this model to arrive for at least another four years.
Read our full review on the 2010 Bugatti 16C Galibier Concept.
Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Bugatti Galibier.
Read our full review on the 2018 Bugatti Chiron.
Read our full review on the 2018 Bugatti Chiron Sport.
Read our full review on the 2019 Bugatti Divo.
Source: Automotive News