THE FU­TURE OF BU­GATTI

WE EX­POSE WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE FOR ONE OF THE WORLD’S FASTEST BRANDS

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS - BY GE­ORG KACHER

Ex­clu­sive in­sight on the like­li­ness of a Bu­gatti SUV, front-en­gine coupe and the next hyper­car

HE BIL­LION DOL­LAR ques­tion Achim An­scheidt has to help Bu­gatti an­swer is where it sees it­self in a decade or two. After all, it’s lit­er­ally his job. To­day, at 57, he heads the Bu­gatti design depart­ment that lives dis­creetly on an in­dus­trial es­tate in Wolfs­burg, Ger­many. He joined the iconic brand 16 years ago and in a pre­vi­ous life the well-dressed son of the three-time mo­tor­bike world cham­pion Ge­org An­scheidt worked as a stunt rider and cir­cus artist.

With help from the for­mer Porsche chief de­signer Harm La­gaay, An­scheidt later grad­u­ated in trans­porta­tion design and joined Volk­swa­gen, work­ing next in Weis­sach, Sit­ges, Ber­lin, Wolfs­burg and Mol­sheim, France. He cur­rently de­votes his free time to restor­ing a Bu­gatti Type 35 and drives a su­per­clean sil­ver 1981 light­weight Porsche 911SC. “My vi­sion for Bu­gatti is Form Fol­lows Per­for­mance,” says the fa­ther of three. “The shape of a Bu­gatti is dic­tated pri­mar­ily by en­gi­neer­ing ne­ces­si­ties. As an iconic state­ment, it must re­main au­then­tic for at least half a cen­tury.”

We won­der if in an­other 35 years that’s how we’ll see the Vey­ron – and it’s a legacy the Ch­i­ron con­tin­ues to­day. The Vey­ron was the baby of Fer­di­nand Piech who ac­quired Bu­gatti in 1988 for the Volk­swa­gen group. A gifted en­gi­neer and a very good driver, the pow­er­ful Aus­trian share­holder sug­gested fus­ing two 4.0-litre VR8 engines (also his brain­child, but a ma­jor flop in the Pas­sat W8) to cre­ate the leg­endary 736kW 8.0-litre W16. Piech pur­chased sev­eral Vey­rons and be­fore his un­timely death he al­legedly also or­dered the one-off Voiture Noire at A$18m be­fore tax.

Al­though Bu­gatti in­tro­duced a re­mov­able roof panel for the Grand Sport Vitesse late in the Vey­ron’s life, the much more dras­tic Barchetta pro­posal from 2008 never made it into pro­duc­tion. The of­fi­cial rea­son

THE REIMAG­INED AT­LANTIC WAS SET TO COST PUN­TERS UN­DER A$1.6M APIECE

was in­suf­fi­cient tor­sional rigid­ity, but the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis was the real cause of death.

Shaped by Jozef Ka­ban who is about to take over Volk­swa­gen design, the Vey­ron was meant to at­tract 70 buy­ers per year, but when the pro­duc­tion run fin­ished, only 300 coupes and 150 road­sters had sold. The group chairman Bernd Pis­chet­srieder jus­ti­fied the heavy losses of around A$7.5m per car by stress­ing the halo ef­fect cre­ated by “the mar­que’s un­ri­valled en­gi­neer­ing com­pe­tence”.

After his de­par­ture, it was agreed to write off the up-front in­vest­ment – an es­ti­mated A$2.64b – so the busi­ness case for the Ch­i­ron was not bur­dened by pre­vi­ous liabilitie­s. Un­der the chair­man­ship of Wolf­gang Dürheimer, the new two-seater coupe launched in 2016 us­ing an up­graded ar­chi­tec­ture and driv­e­train con­cept. The out­put was lim­ited to 500 units. In Fe­bru­ary 2020, car num­ber 250 rolled off the Mol­sheim as­sem­bly line, while an ad­di­tional 150 units are spo­ken for with de­posits and about 100 are still up for grabs. To main­tain sales mo­men­tum, Bu­gatti will keep adding spe­cial ver­sions like the Ch­i­ron Sport and the lim­ited-edi­tion Divo and Cen­todieci.

Seven months be­fore the de­but of the Ch­i­ron at the 2016 Geneva Show, Bu­gatti had planned to un­leash a new fron­tengined model at the Peb­ble Beach Con­cours d’El­e­gance. Known as con­cept At­lantic, the gull­wing crowd-stop­per was in­tended as a teaser for the con­tro­ver­sial sec­ond model range.

Pow­ered by a high-out­put Porsche V8 or four elec­tric hub mo­tors, the reimag­ined At­lantic was to cost un­der A$1.6m apiece. The pro­jected annual out­put was some­where be­tween 750 and 1000 units. Ex­pertly pro­por­tioned and beau­ti­fully de­tailed, the pro­posal was nonethe­less re­jected.

Some claim the busi­ness case did not work out, oth­ers sus­pect that the de­riv­a­tive 515kW en­gine was not spe­cial enough for Bu­gatti, while

the Salzburg grapevine sug­gests Piech was not happy sign­ing off a straight­for­ward sports car. In con­trast, po­ten­tial buy­ers who were shown the At­lantic re­port­edly loved the design and ap­pre­ci­ated the com­par­a­tively gen­er­ous pack­ag­ing.

An­scheidt then pre­sented a counter pro­posal in the shape of the much more ex­treme front-en­gine GT named Rem­brandt (pic­tured cen­tre page 55). It was ex­treme on price (they were talk­ing dou­ble-digit mil­lions), power (1103kW ex­clud­ing elec­tri­fi­ca­tion) and rar­ity (less than 25 would ex­ist). Thanks to all-wheel drive and the light­weight all-car­bon body, the front mid-en­gine W16 twoseater could have vir­tu­ally matched the Ch­i­ron in per­for­mance while adding cabin and boot space.

Al­though high-ups con­sid­ered us­ing this blue­print in a sec­ond Bu­gatti prod­uct, the num­bers just did not add up, and the project was moth­balled be­fore a full-scale model was fin­ished. In essence, that’s where the brand stood on the day be­fore this year’s can­celled Geneva Show that would have de­buted the Ch­i­ron Pur Sport. Ac­cord­ing to a spokesper­son, look­ing deeper into the crys­tal ball to know what fol­lows the Ch­i­ron – as we are go­ing to do right now – is spec­u­la­tion.

CEO Stephan Winkel­mann has con­firmed he is in­ves­ti­gat­ing

THE CH­I­RON’S FU­TURE OF­FERS EVEN MORE OP­TIONS THAN THE VEY­RON’S 31 SPECIALS

the op­por­tu­ni­ties a sec­ond model range of­fers. The model will fea­ture along­side the Ch­i­ron that is tipped to stick around un­til 2026 with up­dates, per­haps even 2028. Ac­cord­ing to an in­sider re­port, A$82.5m is wait­ing to keep the Ch­i­ron street le­gal in Europe, China and Amer­ica.

Al­though mar­ket­ing would love an open-top ver­sion (and call it a road­ster, spy­der or barchetta), there is no bud­get for a new mono­coque that could de­liver the re­quired safety and stiff­ness.

It is pos­si­ble to mod­ify the skin of the ex­ist­ing car, thereby en­hanc­ing its sporti­ness or lux­ury ap­peal. While the Vey­ron spawned no fewer than 31 dif­fer­ent spe­cial se­ries edi­tions from four main­stay mod­els, the fu­ture of the Ch­i­ron of­fers an even broader choice of op­tions that po­ten­tially in­clude more prof­itable coach­built specials.

If the Ch­i­ron does make it through the end of the decade, more ef­fi­cient bat­ter­ies may be ready to pave the way for a fully elec­tric fol­low-up to fight the next su­per Ri­mac or Koenigsegg. But let’s face it: while solid state en­ergy cells and hugely pow­er­ful mo­tors will even­tu­ally be widely avail­able, the Bu­gatti W16 en­gine will re­main leg­end.

Un­less Bu­gatti finds a way to pack­age a high-per­for­mance

fuel cell or to tame the gas tur­bine, it’s hard to pic­ture a break­through Ch­i­ron re­place­ment that de­liv­ers some­thing so ground break­ing. But there is no short­age of in­spi­ra­tion.

Back in Wolfs­burg along­side An­scheidt, new ex­te­rior de­signer Max Lask ex­plored an al­ter­na­tive av­enue in his Bu­gatti-spon­sored stu­dent design the­sis.

His vi­sion of a barely le­gal naked Le Mans racer is a com­plex yet min­i­mal­is­tic two-seater de­signed to win races and wow crowds. So far, this is only a sketch crammed with ideas which re­volve around a feather­weight graphene ma­trix boast­ing a mul­ti­ple wish bone sus­pen­sion in the front and a multi-link lay­out with trans­verse lower coils in the rear. There are no de­tails avail­able yet on its all-elec­tric pow­er­train.

Al­though it is hard to judge a car’s true po­ten­tial from images, the Le Mans-in­spired con­cept does come across as a cred­i­ble Ch­i­ron suc­ces­sor, but not the model range that would run along­side it. Why? Be­cause it is ev­ery bit as ex­treme if not even more so and be­cause it is rad­i­cal in a dif­fer­ent way, more track-fo­cused than road-go­ing. It would prob­a­bly still cost be­tween A$3.3m and A$5m and the out­put may again peak at a to­tal of 500 units.

But as far as Bu­gatti’s core brand val­ues go, it could be more promis­ing than the At­lantic, Barchetta and Rem­brandt be­cause it pushes the en­ve­lope in a di­rec­tion com­peti­tors like the Venom, Agera, Evija or Valkyrie can’t fol­low. The trou­ble is it would have to be en­gi­neered from scratch. It’d have a to­tally new driv­e­train with un­tried bat­ter­ies in a fil­i­gree ar­chi­tec­ture that con­cen­trates on ground-ef­fect aero.

Bu­gatti man­age­ment has em­pha­sised more than once that an SUV is out of the ques­tion and this makes sense from a brand per­spec­tive. But when you look at in­de­pen­dent de­signer Sa­jdin Os­man­ce­vic’s Spar­ta­cus con­cept there is no doubt that oli­garchs would queue for such an im­pos­ing anti-green be­he­moth from Mol­sheim.

WE’RE TALK­ING ABOUT A PO­TENT EV HERE WITH A 735KW-PLUS OUT­PUT

After all, tag­ging it as a ‘Coupe Util­ity Ve­hi­cle’ seems to be per­fectly ac­cept­able to top brass. In ear­lier in­ter­views, Stephan Winkel­mann leaned to­wards a PHEV, but last De­cem­ber said an EV might be the bet­ter so­lu­tion. No doubt, we’re talk­ing about a very po­tent EV here with a 100kWh-plus bat­tery and 735kW-plus out­put.

But even so, the me­chan­i­cal setup and per­for­mance would al­most cer­tainly not de­fine it in a niche where 1471kW may only be a point of pas­sage. Bu­gatti’s must com­pel cus­tomers with a unique ve­hi­cle con­cept, breath­tak­ing design and a bun­dle of ben­e­fits that come with the A$743m project.

With the ex­cep­tion of Range Rover’s Evoque, no OEM has re­cently tried a pre­mium two-door CUV and for a good rea­son. If Bu­gatti de­cides to chase ul­tra rich in­di­vid­u­als with a high­roof crossover on 22- or 24-inch wheels, does a two-door fourseater re­ally cut it? Is a five-me­tre go-any­where ul­tra-lux­ury peo­ple car­rier not bet­ter off with four doors, even if the rear ones were of the sui­cide kind? Fur­ther­more, will it strad­dle Porsche’s big­gest elec­tric plat­form dubbed PPE 61, or does it need a be­spoke com­po­nents set? Is it per­haps wiser to check Audi and Porsche’s up­com­ing K1 ar­chi­tec­ture?

Per­haps the most crit­i­cal ques­tion con­cerns where this CUV would ex­ist in this world. Can it re­vive the Gal­i­bier Evolution shoot­ing brake con­cept and modernise it with the world’s best elec­tric driv­e­train (range, re­peata­bil­ity, degra­da­tion, size, weight) to stand above the Cul­li­nan? Or should Bu­gatti per­haps drop the idea al­to­gether and con­sult its own his­tory books for in­spi­ra­tion? Maybe forge a link be­tween the ul­ti­mate zero-emis­sion power unit and the ul­ti­mate low-drag aero con­cept? Think Type 64 coupe (1939) if you crave mag­nif­i­cence and splen­dour, or Type 73C (1944) for emo­tion and dy­namism.

Ei­ther way, we wish good luck to the Achim An­schei­dts within Bu­gatti. Even if its rich his­tory sug­gests they might not need all that much in­spi­ra­tion.

OP­PO­SITE The Vey­ron’s fa­mous quad-tur­bocharged W16 lives on in the Ch­i­ron with 1103kW and 1600Nm OP­PO­SITE TOP An­scheidt’s been Bu­gatti’s Design Direc­tor since 2004 and lives in Ber­lin BE­LOW $10m Cen­todieci (Italian for 110) is a re­bod­ied Ch­i­ron cel­e­brat­ing Bu­gatti’s 110th an­niver­sary. It’s also sup­posed to be a re­born EB110...

ABOVE Divo is an­other re­bod­ied Ch­i­ron, stripped back a bit for track use and 35kg lighter. It’s 1961kg but still...

Stu­dent Max Lask (In­sta­gram @rgh­sk­tch) got him­self hired by Bu­gatti thanks to this Le Mans 2020 con­cept ren­der OP­PO­SITE TOP RIGHT CEO Stephan Winkel­mann leads Bu­gatti after stints at the top of Lam­borgh­ini and then Audi Sport OP­PO­SITE De­signer Sa­jdin Os­man­ce­vic dreamed up the un­of­fi­cial com­gen SUV Spar­ta­cus Con­cept. See his work on­line at be­hance.net/ sajdi­nos­man­ce­vic

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