Croatian EV startup Rimac Automobili looks set to acquire luxury Bugatti as its current owner Volkswagen Group looks to offload it as part of a potential restructuring of its brand portfolio.
While Bugatti may be best known today for its low-volume 16-cylinder top-speed record-holding cars like the Chiron Super Sport, VW knows that the future of cars isn’t niche and expensive products like thatm but rather electrification, digitalisation, and autonomous driving instead.
And so, as reported by Car, VW is reportedly looking to reduce spending money and time on so-called ‘hobby brands’ acquired by its former CEO, the late Ferdinand Piech, meaning brands like Lamborghini, Bentley, Seat (supposedly set to be merged into the new Cupra brand), Ducati, and Ital Design, are also under investigation.
However, with surviving Piech family members holding a 50 percent controlling interest in the group and VW not wanting to lose favour with them by offloading Ferdinand’s favourite brand of the lot by offloading it completely, it looks set to do some wheeler dealing by panning it off to Rimac via one of the other brands in the group – Porsche.
With Porsche having previously acquired a 10 percent stake in Rimac back in 2018 and a further 5.5 percent share the following year, it’s in good company as one of 15 companies using Rimac’s EV tech know-how, with other investors including Koenigsegg, Jaguar, and Hyundai.
And so, in transferring Bugatti over to Rimac, VW is looking to gain Porsche a larger stake in the company than its current 15.5 percent – meaning that despite Bugatti being worth around €500 million currently, money changing hands may not even need to be a part of the deal.
While Porsche is supposedly eyeing off a 49 percent stake in the EV startup for which it would ideally transfer Bugatti over to Rimac completely to obtain, that may potentially be tough to score – Rimac isn’t yet publicly traded, with its founder, 32-year-old Mate Rimac, still holding a 51 percent majority interest, while other major investors include battery producer Camel Group and an unnamed Chinese businessman.
However, it’s reported that Mate Rimac visited Bugatti’s Molsheim headquarters and was impressed by what he saw – perhaps not least as Rimac looks to launch the 1427kW C-Two hypercar. And Bugatti, of course, knows a thing about making a high-powered hypercar.
Although sources indicated to Car that VW executives had already approved of the deal from their end of the deal last week, it’s supposedly still set to be signed off on by the group’s supervisory board.
If the deal is approved by the supervisory board, it would likely see Bugatti’s current CEO Stephan Winkelmann depart, who is currently rumoured to be gearing up to give the green light to an all-new zero-emissions track-only hypercar made by Bugatti dubbed the Vision Le Mans – a car originally imagined in a set of renderings by 27-year-old design graduate Max Lask.
While VW’s current executives are clearly not as attached to the group’s crown jewels as Piech who acquired them was, dealing Bugatti off to Rimac via Porsche looks to be a more straightforward deal than untangling Audi and Lamborghini, or Bentley and Porsche due to the financial and legal circumstances surrounding those couplings, along with negotiations with potential investors having been brought to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.