Volkswagen held Bugatti as a subsidiary for more than 20 years.
This week, Volkswagen AG said it will form a new joint venture company, shifting majority control of Bugatti to Rimac, with Mate Rimac as the CEO for the new firm. As part of the deal, the Croatian company will take a 55% stack in the venture, with the remaining 45% falling under Porsche‘s ownership later this year. Given Rimac’s short but substantial reputation for building electric hypercars, the news does mean a radical shift is on the horizon for the 112-year-old brand.
Take a look at Rimac’s own portfolio, and it’s not too difficult to see the trajectory for Bugatti. Earlier this year, the EV hypercar brand unveiled the Nevera. It’s a quad-motor powerhouse with 1,914 horsepower and a 0-60 time under 2 seconds. What’s more, it carries a claimed top speed of 258 mph, putting it right in Bugatti’s territory on sheer speed. With the car gunning for Bugatti’s speed title, it’s perhaps an obvious choice Rimac would get involved in the French brand’s automotive future.
That said, Rimac Group will not change Bugatti’s current output, at least at this point. “Bugatti and Rimac will both continue as separate respective brands,” says the official statement. “Bugatti Rimac represents a company that will develop the future of both Bugatti and Rimac vehicles, by joining resources and expertise in research and development, production and other areas. While electric hypercars are clearly in Bugatti’s future, it will continue building internal combustion vehicles for some years yet.
VW Group shifts priorities
While Bugatti has been a technical feather in Volkswagen Group’s cap, the brand has never made money for the German automotive giant since it took over in 1998. Now, as Porsche takes on the remaining shares of the joint deal later this year, VW can focus on the rest of its business, which includes bringing more affordable (and profitable) EV models to customers over the coming years.
That said, we’ll have to see exactly how this deal works out for Bugatti in the future. “We haven’t figured everything out ourselves,” said Rimac. To date, the Croatian firm has been a technology supplier to companies to larger automakers, including Porsche, who holds a 24% share in the firm. Hyundai also holds a minority share in Rimac, at 12%.