All posts in “stephan winkelmann”

Bugatti has already designed and shown an SUV, awaits green light

Bugatti appears to be backing itself right into the quilted leather seats of a crossover the brand swore would never happen. In January, CEO Stephan Winkelmann announced to the world, “There will be no SUV from Bugatti.” By April, reports said Bugatti was working on a “crossover-influenced sports car,” which is gobbledygook meant to avoid calling an SUV an SUV. Winkelmann also admitted then that as far as what kind of vehicle to build as a second Bugatti, “It’s not me to decide.” At the beginning of this month, Automobile magazine’s intel claimed Bugatti was considering an all-electric SUV using a Rimac platform, limited to around 600 units per year and selling for between $850,000 and $1 million. Closing the circle, when Automobile‘s man recently sat down with Winkelmann, the CEO said this in response to a question about a “three-door, ultra-premium crossover SUV:” “The design is done. Some potential customers have seen it, and they liked it.”

The Italo-German head honcho then seemed to back Automobile‘s previous reportage, saying that a potential crossover “would almost certainly be battery-powered,” and that he envisioned sales volumes between 600 and 800 per year. When “one or two influential people” from the Volkswagen Group mother ship stopped by to check out the design, they “were complimentary about it.” Since overlords haven’t signed off on any such vehicle, “there is no budget and no decision.” But this is like when a dog owner puts on his jacket, shorts, and gym shoes, grabs the leash, then tortures the dog with the pretense that they aren’t going for a walk. So don’t be surprised if [when] Bugatti reveals a crossover.

One truly surprising quote from the boss was when he said, “So far, nobody is doing a high-performance, high-end luxury CUV. Because of the battery situation, it’s too early for an electric hypercar.” To the former claim, that’s a wheelbarrow full of dirt thrown on the Bentley Bentayga Speed, as well as the Lamborghini Urus that Winkelmann shepherded to production. As for the latter, Rimac and Pininfarina would likely, respectfully, disagree. 

Another potential walk-back is an open-topped version of the Chiron. When Motor Trend asked Winkelmann last December if the carmaker planned a Chiron Grand Sport, the exec replied, “We decided in the Chiron project not to do an open-top version.” And now? Seems so many owners have pestered the boss about a Grand Sport version that it is at least a possibility, but one that — strangely — requires some re-engineering. We find it odd that a Chiron Grand Sport wasn’t in the plan from day dot. However, “if the roof must come off,” Winkelmann said, “this can only be done properly with a reengineered and much stiffer monocoque. So let’s wait and see.” 

As if that weren’t enough, remember the top-speed run that wasn’t a priority? Well, it’s “still a possibility.” Check out the Automobile piece for more on where — and how fast — the ultra-luxury brand might go with its current car and any addition to the lineup.

Bugatti’s CEO Says It’s Ready for Another Model

He Doesn’t Sound Sure On What It Will Be

Under the leadership of Stephan Winkelmann, Bugatti is doing well. The company released the Chiron Sport and has had several special editions. It also revealed the La Voiture Noire at the Geneva Motor show, which was a one-off and extremely expensive. So, things are going well. According to the CEO, the company is now ready for another model. 

In an interview with CarAdvice, Winkelmann said exactly that. He said the company is looking at the options, and he didn’t sound too sure of where that process would lead.

We need to see if this is something we can achieve, in terms of investments and development costs, which is not an easy task. You have to increase your team, your production and within the VW Group, you have to see what their highest priority is, so we are constantly trying our best to be in that mix.

Winkelmann said Bugatti would not share platforms with other brands. Instead, he said it would be a stand-alone model. The move to add another model to the Bugatti lineup brings up the question of whether or not it would be an electric, gasoline-powered, or some kind of hybrid.

Winkelmann expressed interest in a hybrid model but said the difficulty there was weight. However, he said the company is so good at managing weight. “What we offer the VW Group is the expertise of lightweight materials because we are so extreme in the development of our own car.”

If Bugatti were to add a new model and sell more vehicles overall, Winkelmann said it would need to expand the factory in Molsheim. He said Bugatti would not build cars anywhere else. “That’s our heritage and part of the ownership experience is to take delivery at the Chateau.”

Audi wants a hypercar, but RS crossovers and EVs are job one

Every so often, an automaker decides to throw everything it has in terms of cash and engineering prowess at a project. This has spawned cars like the Porsche 918 Spyder or the upcoming Mercedes-AMG hypercar. As fantastic as some of these machines may be, the final product often does more for an automaker’s image than it does for its bottom line. Automotive News reports that Audi, long rumored to be working on a car to slot above the R8, is in no hurry to build a so-called hypercar.

Audi Sport CEO Stephan Winkelmann isn’t ruling out the idea, but he says right now the brand needs to focus on crossovers and electrification, with some sort of supercar coming down the road. Winkelmann formerly ran Lamborghini before moving over to Audi Quattro GmbH. The latter recently rebranded itself as Audi Sport and aims to compete straight on with Mercedes-AMG and BMW M. The R8 and all the RS variants fall under the Audi Sport banner.

Winkelmann told Automotive News that he believes Audi deserves to build a halo car. The past decade or so has been great for the brand. While Audi used to play second fiddle to BMW and Mercedes-Benz, that doesn’t seem to be the case any longer. Winkelmann said customers have been asking for a project. Give the people what they want.

In the immediate future, Audi plans to grace more crossovers with the RS nameplate. Crossovers are hot, and Audi has nothing to compete with all of the Mercedes-AMG models. This means performance variance beyond the current SQ5 and SQ7. Beyond that, Audi Sport plans to focus on its on E-Tron electric car project.

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