The move is part of a long-term plan to secure the company’s future operations and financial independence in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal that has engulfed its parent company, the VW Group.
The luxurious new four-seat saloon is one of four model proposals being looked at by Bugatti boss Wolfgang Dürheimer. It is intended to provide stiff competition for the upcoming replacement for the Rolls-Royce Phantom at a price comparable with the French car maker’s new £1.9 million Chiron, which will be delivered to its first customers this autumn.
However, unlike the mid-engined Chiron, the production version of the Galibier is set to hold true to the original concept by using a front-engined layout.
Although it is early days for the new Bugatti model, suggestions from within the VW Group’s engineering circles are that it could be based on a modified version of the Porsche-developed MSB platform — a structure that is set to play a prominent role in the future of its British sister company, Bentley.
Commenting on information obtained by Autocar about the brand’s plans for a second model along the lines of the Galibier, Bugatti boss Wolfgang Dürheimer said: “At present, I am following up four strategic ideas. The Galibier is one. I can’t talk about the others.”
VW Group officials familiar with the Bugatti plan say the alternatives to the Galibier as a second Bugatti model include a Rolls-Royce Cullinan-rivalling luxury SUV, a highly formal, six-metre-long spiritual successor to the Bugatti Royale with an electric powertrain, and a less expensive supercar model to sit beneath the Chiron.
However, Dürheimer leaves little doubt about his favourite among the four proposals. Commenting on the Galibier, he said: “My heart continues to beat for this car, because we had some revolutionary approaches that no one to date has yet dared to place into production.”
An original go-ahead for the Galibier was given in 2011. However, despite firm plans for a production run of up to 3000 cars over eight years, development of the luxurious four-seater was abandoned in 2013 when Dürheimer moved to Audi. Under his replacement, Wolfgang Schreiber, Bugatti decided to continue down the hypercar route with the Chiron.
On his return to Bugatti in 2015, Dürheimer wasted little time in resurrecting the Galibier.
“I have some technological ideas for the next car, for the Galibier, that I was following up hard when I was at Bugatti the first time,” he said. “I’m always walking around motor shows checking what the luxury field tells me — not only in terms of luxury but also in technology.”
Although all the signs point to the Galibier being the next Bugatti model, there are strong indications that it may not be launched until after the Chiron finishes production.
Dürheimer said: “There is an idea to keep on going [with model expansion], but we don’t need a line-up with multiple model lines. As an engineer, when you execute an idea, you then ask what is the next one.”
Despite the financial drain placed on the VW Group by the on-going diesel emissions scandal, Autocar has been told product strategists at Europe’s largest car maker have demanded that Bugatti establish a self-sustaining long-term business plan beyond the Chiron.
A person familiar with the situation at Bugatti said: “Part of the decision to keep Bugatti within the portfolio of brands overseen by the VW Group was tied to assurances that it would provide a suitable return on investment within its next phase of operation.”