Winkelmann expects battery technology to improve over the next couple of years to become viable for a Bugatti, and said of customers: “There will be an acceptance of electrification now the first cars are coming.”
The model would not detract from the Chiron, which would remain Bugatti’s ‘halo’ model and flagship. “There is a disconnection from one to the other. It will be below the Chiron but on top of every other model,” added Winkelmann, confirming only that it would cost less than the Chiron’s £2.5 million price.
Any model yet to be signed off will still be several years from production, the earliest realistic launch date being 2022. Asked when Bugatti would be ready to go with the project, Winkelmann said: “Immediately. I’m ready. We’ve worked a lot, we want a second model. There is no pressure; there is such high demand from brands in the group. Let’s see.”
Adding a new model line to a range, rather than replacing an existing one, is a tougher process in the VW Group, said Winkelmann. “As long as you exchange models, it’s easy,” he explained. “If you add, it’s tougher.”
Bugatti produced a fastback concept back in 2009, but the firm is understood to be unconvinced that a saloon-style vehicle would be as appealing as a sleek crossover.
Winkelmann on Bugatti’s other plans
Bugatti hasn’t ruled out building more one-offs like the £9.45 million La Voiture Noire shown at the recent Geneva motor show.
That 1479bhp car is based on the Chiron but heavily reworked with entirely new bodywork and an extended wheelbase. Asked if the firm could produce more bespoke machines, Winkelmann said: “There are more and more customers asking for one.”
He also said the brand was conscious of doing too many special editions of the Chiron, as it did with the Veyron, because customers “have to value what they buy” and not find the core product to be diluted.
Bugatti has delivered around 150 of the 500 Chirons it will build, with the production run due to last for five more years.
As for whether the Chiron’s replacement would use electrification or retain its mighty W16 engine, Winkelmann said: “We have some time but I wouldn’t go a half-step; it’ll be full electric or a normal combustion engine.”
Bugatti Veyron 2005-2015 review