With SUVs and CUVs accounting for more than half of all new vehicle sales in the U.S. and a growing share in other key markets, it’s no surprise that more and more brands are adding utility vehicles to their line-ups.
That’s particularly true in the upper reaches of the market, where Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini now offer utes and Aston Martin and even Ferrari are set to follow. Still, the idea of Bugatti getting into the game is likely to take many people by surprise.
Indeed, even CEO Stephan Winkelmann has offered some confusing comments during the past year, as recently as January declaring, “There will be no SUV from Bugatti.” But now, it seems, he is reversing course – or, at least, relying on semantics – to tell us there actually is a crossover-utility vehicle coming from the Mulsanne-based manufacturer.
“The design is done,” Bugatti’s CEO told Automobile magazine in the new issue. “Some potential customers have seen it, and they liked it. One or two influential people up in Wolfsburg, (where the French automaker’s parent, Volkswagen, is based), were complimentary about it. But at this point there is no budget and no decision.”
Perhaps not, but between what sources are suggesting, as well as Winkelmann’s subsequent comments, potential buyers have a fairly good reason to start savings their Bitcoins.
Asked why Bugatti would even consider a crossover, the Italian-born executive explained, “Because crossovers are in strong demand. So far, nobody is doing a high-performance, high-end luxury CUV.”
That comment might come as a shock to the folks at Lamborghini, never mind Porsche or Bentley, the latter claiming to now produce the world’s fastest SUV in the form of the 190 mph 2020 Bentley Bentayga Speed.
Of course, considering Bugatti lays claim to a top speed of 261 mph with its Chiron, its definition of a “high-performance, high-end luxury CUV” might be a bit different from most everyone else.
What also may catch folks by surprise was Winkelmann’s suggestion that while “it’s too early” for a hypercar like the Chison to go electric, “a more generously packaged CUV would almost certainly be battery-powered.”
In his former incarnation, as CEO of Lamborghini, Winkelmann gave thumbs-up to that brands performance crossover, the Urus – which also makes claim to being to top out at 190 mph. The exec sold management on the concept by predicting it would quickly become Lambo’s best-selling model line.
It appears that a crossover would do similar wonders at Bugatti, Winkelmann more than favorably comparing it to the minimal sales numbers of the current Chiron.
”We’re not talking 100 cars a year here, but 600 to 800,” he told Automobile.
And while the automaker doesn’t expect to command quite the price of the Chiron – which starts at a “base” $3 million, it would still handsomely burnish its revenues at an estimated $805,000 to $1 million apiece for the crossover.
As for the source of a Bugatti CUV’s drivetrain, one apparently serious option is to turn to Croatian hypercar company Rimac. That might come as a surprise to those within the vast Volkswagen empire considering what the automaker’s various luxury brands are working on for the future with their own electrification efforts. But Rimac – which is already working for a variety of other automakers, including Hyundai, has some impressive technology it would gladly share, for a price.
It’s latest hypercar, the Concept Two, makes a jaw-dropping 1,914 horsepower, enough to propel tha two-seater from 0 to 60 in just 1.85 seconds, with a top speed of 258 mph. That’s not quite a match for the Chiron, but it appears even Winkelmann would consider those sorts of numbers enough for a “high-performance, high-end luxury CUV.”