Power, luxury, exclusivity, and grand touring driving enjoyment. The Bugatti EB112 promised all those adjectives in spades were it ever actually produced. But it was born at a very difficult time in the company’s history, and the super sedan never made it beyond the concept stage.
However, due to some interesting timing at the company level, the EB112 was not just a one-off concept. In fact, there are three in existence.
We reported last fall how Volkswagen-owned Bugatti had its future products on hold, given the financially turbulent and awful year which was 2020. In addition to the global pandemic cutting production, sales, profits, and everything else, VW was pouring lots of development money into its I.D. electric vehicle lineup.
At the time, there were mumblings that EV startup Rimac was in talks to purchase the brand from VW. News broke yesterday of a merger, where Volkswagen and Porsche are not entirely out of the picture.
The Bugatti Bolide Concept, which is a track-focused supercar has impressive numbers. An 8.0-liter W16 engine, 1,824 horsepower, 1,364 lb-ft of torque, a power-to-weight ratio of 0.67 kg/PS, and a weight of 1,240 kilograms — all dazzle.
Another impressive number — the claimed 3:07.1 lap time around LeMans and 5:23.1 around the Nurburgring’s Nordschleife. Problem is, those numbers are based on simulations.
There have been some turbulent times at Bugatti in the second half of 2020. In addition to wearing a For Sale sign over at Volkswagen’s headquarters, the company is discovering that The Current Year just might not be the best time to create a new and super-exclusive hypercar. So it isn’t.
More evidence has surfaced that Volkswagen Group may be on the cusp of relieving itself of some of its less-profitable subsidiaries. Following news of a November board meeting that would help decide the fate of numerous ultra-premium brands, rumor has it that VW is currently working out ways to give Lamborghini more autonomy and open the door for supply deals that could foreshadow it being listed on the stock market.
Additionally, the automaker’s supervisory board has already reportedly met to discuss the future of Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and its Ducati motorcycle arm. Discussions were said to include how to electrify the more sporting nameplates via industrial partnerships and procuring investment dollars. Some of these deals are already in the early stages, according to Reuters, with a possible IPO for the Italian supercar brand alleged to be moving forward at the time of this writing.
Volkswagen Group, the largest automotive manufacturer in the world, is reexamining its relationship with high-performance subsidiaries as it continues pouring money into electrification. Burned by a diesel emissions scandal of its own making half a decade ago, VW leadership now views electric cars as the only path forward — especially in regard to its more mainstream brands. While they aren’t getting identical treatments, VW, Audi, Seat, and Skoda are all presumed to be adding EVs to their production lines over the next few years.
Porsche’s long-term strategy also seems heavily dependent on battery power, but the road ahead is much less clear for ultra-premium brands like Lamborghini and Bugatti. With volumes and lineups order of magnitudes smaller than the core brands, Volkswagen would be incurring a gigantic expense to develop upper-echelon performance EVs that might not appeal to their existing fans. The same goes for upscale motorcycle brand Ducati as the two-wheeled world has become divided on electric and gas-powered bikes. Volkswagen’s management board and directors have decided the situation calls for an all-hands meeting in November to decide what should be done and how to remain financially prudent in a period of economic strife.
Croatian supercar firm Rimac Automobili is reportedly in the process of acquiring Bugatti from Volkswagen. While rumors had been swirling that VW might offload a few of its brands in a bid to focus on electrification and emissions compliance, this is is the first time we’ve heard credible rumblings about real action being taken.
Considering the space Rimac occupies, adding the formerly French Bugatti brand also makes some amount of sense. We’d be a lot more skeptical if founder Mate Rimac was alleged to be making a move on SEAT because he suddenly found a passion for designing economy cars. But the prospective tie-up is more complicated than it seems at first blush. Volkswagen Group’s Porsche actually owns a 15-percent stake in Rimac so it can tap into some of its sweetest technical equipment for the purpose of building EVs.
When you’re selling a car that starts at just a tick under $3 million, one that’s already regarded as the most powerful and expensive sports car in the world, does more speed really add to the package? Without a supply of rarified air to tap into, this author can only assume that bragging rights grow more important the more a person makes. Why else do wildly affluent people scale Everest only to die on its frigid, oxygen-free slopes?
For Bugatti, maker of the 1,500-horsepower, 16-cylinder Chiron, a speed record crushed under the wheels of a “near production” prototype last month serves only to add additional — and perhaps unnecessary — glitz to the ultimate of halo cars.
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?
Our recent Rare Rides entry on the Bugatti EB110 quickly sussed out a couple of mid-90s competitors in the comments section. Today, we’ll visit the trio and pick one to take home.
An entrant each from France, England, and Italy; all of them failures in their own right. Which big money flop will it be?
We know the odds of your owning a $3 million Bugatti Chiron are pretty slim, so recall information from the brand doesn’t pertain directly to you. However, it’s sometimes interesting to examine how the other half lives. Have you ever wondered what several million dollars will get you when you spend it on a car that may have left the factory less than perfect?
According to the manufacturer, you are graced by the presence of one of Bugatti’s “Flying Doctors.” These mobile mechanics will begin contacting 47 Chiron owners to schedule dates where they can visit and examine the vehicles for faulty welds in the front seat recliner brackets. The bad welds are only expected to affect one-percent of the total, which works out to a perplexing half a car by our math. But, when you pay a few million for a car, you expect dapper concierge technicians at the ready.
According to a report in Autocar, the rise through Volkswagen Group ranks accomplished by Audi Sport CEO Stephan Winkelmann will continue in 2018.
Formerly a Fiat employee, the 52-year-old Winkelmann became famous in the auto industry during his decade-long run as president and CEO of Lamborghini. Winkelmann then took over at Audi’s Quattro performance division in March 2016 before changing its name to Audi Sport. But the Rome native’s tenure at Audi Sport will reportedly be cut short by Volkswagen Group’s need to fill the lead position at its flagship brand, Bugatti.
If Autocar’s sources are right, look for Winkelmann to take over at Bentley in 2019, as well. Makes you wonder: Winkelmann has climbed from Fiat to Lamborghini to Audi Sport to Bugatti and Bentley. What’s next?
The Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 debuted in 2005 to spec sheet acclaim. On paper, there had never been anything like it. 16 cylinders, four turbos, 987 horsepower.
And 10 miles per gallon of premium gasoline.
The 2018 Bugatti Chiron is a better car, as it should be after more than a decade passed between development cycles. There are still 16 cylinders and four turbos, but Bugatti increased the power (having intermittently done so during the Veyron’s tenure) to 1,500 horses.
That 52 percent increase in power is not quite matched by a commensurate improvement in the distance travelled per gallon of premium gasoline. Not quite.
Rival automakers salivating at the thought of snapping up a castoff from Volkswagen’s brand portfolio will have to sit and wait.
Amid grim fourth-quarter financial data and ongoing expenses linked to the diesel emissions scandal, the company is standing by its assets, but admits they might have to jettison some if unexpected expenses crop up.