The proposed sale, although not officially confirmed, was the main topic at a recent Volkswagen Group supervisory board member meeting, according to Germany’s Manager Magazin. It said chairman Herbert Diess is hopeful of concluding a signing of contracts by end of 2020.
To enable Rimac to finance the purchase of Bugatti, Volkswagen Group-owned Porsche is expected to boost its current 15.5% shareholding in the Croatian company to as much as 49%.
The increased Porsche shareholding in Rimac is planned to enable the Volkswagen Group to remain active in the future decision processes at Bugatti, according to one insider, who told Autocar that talks between the German giant and Rimac are ongoing, with final decisions on the complex three-way purchase yet to be made.
Autocar’s request for comment was denied by Bugatti, Porsche and Rimac.
Under the condition of the sale said to be proposed by Volkswagen, Bugatti would switch its focus from combustion-engined to electric supercars, using driveline and battery knowhow developed by Rimac for its 1888bhp C_Two hypercar.
The purchase by Rimac of Bugatti and the increased shareholding of Porsche would be dependent on the agreement of a number of current stakeholders, including Chinese battery specialist Camel Group and Hong Kong-based China Dynamics, further sources suggest.
Founded in 1909, Bugatti sold 82 cars in 2019, mainly examples of the Chiron, which features a quad-turbocharged 8.0-litre W16 petrol engine developing 1479bhp.
Bugatti’s most recent model, the 1578bhp Centodieci, is based on the Chiron. It's planned to be built in a limited run of just 10, each priced at €8 million (£7.3m).
Rimac, headquartered in Sveta Nedelja, near the Croatian capital Zagreb, was established in 2009 by Mate Rimac.
Autocar understands that Bugatti was initially offered to Gregor Piëch, a son of former Volkswagen Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch. However, this sale never came to fruition.
Under Diess, Volkswagen is currently undergoing a major reorganisation, with a focus on electric mobility and a renewed focus on volume production.
The futures of its upper luxury car brands, including Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini, as well as motorcycle manufacturer Ducati and design studio Italdesign, are all said to be under scrutiny as the company seeks to cut costs in order to fund the electrification plans of its volume brands – Audi, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen – and an extension of Porsche's EV operations in co-operation with Rimac.