By on August 9, 2019

Bugatti Chiron

Bentley has one. Rolls-Royce has one, too. Lamborghini has one, and so does Maserati. The idea that a utility vehicle should be off-limits to builders of traditional passenger cars went out the window around the time Jaguar unveiled its second crossover.

Automakers everywhere are future-proofing themselves with the added cushion of a popular, high-margin CUV. It’s the equivalent of moving money out of stocks and into gold in the face of a looming economic downturn. So why not Bugatti, maker of the biggest-bucks, biggest-horsepower vehicles on earth?

Speaking to Automobile recently, Bugatti president Stephan Winkelmann said the exclusive brand is making progress in its plan to move beyond a single model line. All that’s missing is a green light.

“There are several alternatives [to the Chiron] under consideration. More power is always an option, as is less weight,” Winkelmann said. “Additional body styles are also an opportunity.”

As a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, Bugatti has access to the talent and technology needed to pull off an SUV without going overboard on development costs. There’s a number of rumors afoot about who, exactly, Bugatti would partner with to help build such a vehicle.

“The design is done,” Winkelmann said of the looming utility vehicle. “Some potential customers have seen it, and they liked it. One or two influential people up in Wolfsburg were complimentary about it. But at this point there is no budget and no decision.”

When asked why the storied brand would put effort into making a crossover and not some sort of insane EV hypercar or luxury sedan, the answer was obvious.

“Because crossovers are in strong demand,” the brand’s president said. “So far, nobody is doing a high-performance, high-end luxury CUV. Because of the battery situation, it’s too early for an electric hypercar. Having said that, the more generously packaged CUV would almost certainly be battery-powered.”

The time for sedans has passed, Winkelmann said, adding that the brand doesn’t see enough volume in another traditional offering. He envisions 600 to 800 units a year for the unborn CUV. In the meantime, there’s still boundaries to push with the Chiron hypercar, with Winkelmann mentioning a possible 310-mph variant of the already nutso 8.0-liter W16 unicorn.

[Image: Volkswagen Group]

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