What’s the Future for Bugatti?
Bugatti, the iconic luxury car brand known for its exceptional craftsmanship and performance, has been making waves in the automotive industry for decades. With a rich history and a loyal customer base, the brand has continuously pushed the boundaries of what is possible in the world of supercars. But what does the future hold for Bugatti? In this article, we will explore the latest developments and insights into the brand’s direction, as well as the vision of its new CEO, Stephan Winkelmann.
Bugatti’s Legacy and Current Success
Bugatti’s journey began in Molsheim, the birthplace of the brand, where the stunning Chateau Saint-Jean stands as a testament to its heritage. The Chateau is surrounded by various buildings, each playing a significant role in Bugatti’s operations. Remise Nord houses the historical collection and Bugatti’s team of “flying doctors,” while Remise Sud is home to the Bugatti library and a video wall where prospective owners finalize the details of their Chiron. The Orangery, lovingly restored in 2009, and the modern Atelier building further add to the brand’s allure.
With over 300 of the 500 Chirons already sold, Bugatti is clearly in a strong position. However, the recent changes in the Volkswagen Group, Bugatti’s parent company, including the appointment of Stephan Winkelmann as the new CEO, have brought new challenges and opportunities for the brand. Winkelmann, previously the head of Lamborghini, brings a fresh perspective and experience in expanding a luxury car brand into new markets.
The Chiron and Its Future
The Bugatti Chiron, the brand’s flagship model, has captivated automotive enthusiasts worldwide with its breathtaking design and extraordinary performance. As the successor to the Veyron, the Chiron has already proven its prowess with its top speed of 261mph. But what lies ahead for this iconic supercar?
While the Veyron had various derivations, including the Targa-roofed Grand Sport and the Super Sport, Winkelmann has indicated that there are no plans for an open-top version of the Chiron. Instead, the focus is on keeping the Chiron as a pure coupe, maximizing its performance and maintaining its exclusivity. The goal is to create the best possible iteration of the Chiron, rather than diluting its essence with multiple variations.
The Importance of Top Speed
Top speed has always been synonymous with Bugatti, with the Veyron claiming the title of the fastest car in the world during its time. However, Winkelmann believes that top speed is not the defining factor for Bugatti’s success. He acknowledges that someone will always be chasing the speed record, and his priority lies in other aspects of the brand’s identity. While the Chiron’s top speed is an impressive 261mph, Winkelmann questions the necessity of going even faster, as he believes it may not significantly impact the brand’s reputation.
The Vision of Stephan Winkelmann
As the new CEO of Bugatti, Winkelmann brings a wealth of experience from his successful tenure at Lamborghini. His objective is to leverage Bugatti’s strong brand image and expand its product lineup beyond the Chiron. While the current focus is on the Chiron and its continued success, Winkelmann sees a significant opportunity for Bugatti to offer more to its customers.
He envisions a future where Bugatti produces more than one car, but not as an alternative to the Chiron. The idea is for customers to own both the Chiron and another Bugatti model, complementing each other in their automotive collection. Winkelmann understands the potential of expanding Bugatti’s offerings while maintaining the exclusivity and desirability that the brand represents.
Exploring New Body Styles and Segments
Bugatti’s limited customer base, consisting of around 400 individuals, presents a unique challenge for the brand. While these customers are highly satisfied with their Chirons, Bugatti recognizes the potential to reach a broader audience. Winkelmann and his team are carefully evaluating different body styles, segments, regions, and pricing to determine the best direction for Bugatti’s expansion.
While nothing has been confirmed yet, the possibility of a second model in Bugatti’s lineup is under consideration. However, this model would not be a direct competitor to the Chiron. Rather, it would offer a distinct experience and cater to a different segment of customers. Bugatti aims to create a scenario where customers choose to own both the Chiron and the new model, enhancing their overall Bugatti ownership experience.
The Potential for a Bugatti SUV
As SUVs gain popularity among luxury car manufacturers, speculation about a Bugatti SUV has circulated among automotive enthusiasts. However, Winkelmann remains tight-lipped about this possibility. While nothing is confirmed, he acknowledges that Bugatti has the capacity to create more than one car. If an SUV were to be introduced, it would need to align with Bugatti’s brand values and not compromise the exclusivity and reputation the brand has built over the years.
A More Extreme Version of the Chiron
While the potential for a second Bugatti model is still being evaluated, Winkelmann is exploring the idea of a limited series that builds upon the Chiron’s exceptional performance. Drawing inspiration from Lamborghini’s approach, he envisions a more extreme version of the Chiron that would be unique, exclusive, and instantly recognizable as a Bugatti. This limited series would feature design elements such as the horseshoe grille, the Bugatti line, and the center line from the Atlantic, paying homage to the brand’s heritage.
The engineering of such a project would require careful consideration. While the powertrain would remain untouched, the bodywork, aerodynamics, steering, and interior could be modified to achieve a lighter, nimbler, and more aggressive car with increased downforce. The Bugatti historians are currently delving into the brand’s archive to find a suitable candidate to name this special project after, further adding to its exclusivity and appeal.
Pricing and Production of a Limited Series
Determining the price and production volume of a limited series car is a complex task. The scale of the transformation and the demand from Bugatti’s customer base would heavily influence these decisions. One possible scenario could involve a 40-car limited series based on the Chiron, with each car priced at €5 million. This approach would offer an exclusive opportunity for current Bugatti owners to add a unique edition to their collection, while also generating positive attention for the brand. The potential reveal of such a car at Monterey Car Week, a significant event for luxury car enthusiasts, would further enhance its impact.
Bugatti’s Commitment to Driving Experience
Bugatti has always been about the joy of driving, and Winkelmann intends to uphold this tradition. Despite the advancements in autonomous technology, he firmly believes that a Bugatti is meant to be driven and enjoyed by its owner. While the brand is aware of the trends in the automotive industry, Winkelmann emphasizes the importance of maintaining the essence of an internal combustion engine and the unique experience it provides.
While electrification is on the horizon for Bugatti, it will depend on the timing and the ability to deliver the best possible performance. Winkelmann recognizes the need to balance environmental considerations with the brand’s commitment to creating the best of the best. He remains open to exploring hybrid technologies but ensures that any future developments align with Bugatti’s core values.
The future of Bugatti holds great promise under the leadership of Stephan Winkelmann. With his experience in expanding luxury car brands and a clear vision for Bugatti’s growth, Winkelmann aims to build upon the brand’s legacy while exploring new opportunities. While the Chiron remains the centerpiece of Bugatti’s lineup, the potential for a second model and a more extreme limited series showcases the brand’s commitment to innovation and exclusivity. As Bugatti continues to push the boundaries of automotive excellence, enthusiasts can look forward to an exciting future for this iconic brand.