Rimac Just Bought Bugatti. Here's Why It's a Huge EV Bet for VW

Bugatti-Rimac will be headed by 33-year-old Croatian Mate Rimac.

via Rimac

After months of rumors, electric hypercar manufacturer Rimac will officially assume the majority stake in Volkswagen's artsy-performance automaker, Bugatti. The two companies, along with buy-in from Porsche, will form a fresh brand under the new ownership model aptly called Bugatti-Rimac.

The brand will be headed up by Mate Rimac, the 33-year-old Croatian CEO, and be located at a new headquarters to be built in Zagreb, Croatia (just 10 miles east from Rimac's existing headquarters in Sveta Nedelja) in 2023. Bugatti will continue to remain its own independent brand and build cars in Molsheim, France. However, the ownership shift means that Bugatti can tap into Rimac's engineering resources to jointly develop future models.

via Rimac

Volkswagen group has been said to have slated the sell-off of Ferdinand Piëch's "favorite toy" since his death in 2019. Piëch—the late grandson of Ferdinand Porsche—has long been credited with saving Volkswagen in the early 1990s and overseeing outrageous supercar nameplates like the Veyron under the Bugatti marque. However, the brand wasn't exactly a moneymaker in the grand scheme of things.

The brand was more about shock value and engineering marvels. The cars were large, yet designed to look sleek and modern. Meanwhile, the engines became gigantic, built to be fuel-guzzling, turbocharged 16-cylinder mills capable of making stratospherical amounts of power. And in a world where other automakers have accelerated the jump to battery power, Bugatti isn't exactly at the bleeding edge anymore.

As more automakers encroach on Bugatti's unique market space, the need to modernize is real. The era of building bespoke motorcoaches for royalty and Grand Prix racers is long gone, and the days of huge W16-powered luxo-barges are seemingly numbered with the uptick in electrification elsewhere in the space. And that's where Rimac and its knack for building 1,914-horsepower electric hypercars comes into play.

via Rimac

While not directly owned by Volkswagen, the new Bugatti-Rimac brand is still a rather impressive bet in electrification in a Byzantine-esque roundabout way thanks to Porsche's ownership stake.

The complicated corporate ownership structure of Bugatti-Rimac places Rimac Group as the majority stakeholder of the endeavor with 55 percent of the control. Volkswagen-owned Porsche retains the other 45 percent of ownership. Above Rimac Group sits another number of shareholders, beginning with CEO Mate Rimac who controls 37 percent of the company. Porsche controls 24 percent of Rimac Group, Hyundai has 12 percent, and "other investors" amass the remaining 27 percent.

Meanwhile, Porsche CEO Oliver Blume acknowledged that the shift in ownership will allow Volkswagen to focus on more pressing tasks as the German automaker progresses its own rapid shift towards electrification. The notion of Bugatti being more of a distraction than a brand asset at this point justifies the shedding of Piëch's pet project.

As for the newly-freed Bugatti brand, the shift means Bugatti will now have the resources for its own electric model. Rimac says this will likely be before the end of the decade, though the internal combustion engine is still projected to be present at that time through the use of hybrid powertrains.

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