New details of Bugatti’s planned maximum-luxury model—speculated to be named “Royale”—have surfaced, suggesting a paradigm shift in Bugatti’s vehicle design philosophy.
Bugatti president Stephan Winkelmann recently confirmed that the automaker is formulating an electric vehicle (EV) to be driven on a more routine basis than its exotic Chiron hypercar, and that it won’t be a crossover or SUV. Winkelmann also claimed during an interview that it will certainly bear a more traditional car body style and that it wouldn’t prioritize top speed the way recent Bugatti models have.
“In Bugatti’s future, maximum speed does not play the leading role anymore,” Winkelmann told Car. “From now on, we are going to put an emphasis on ultimate overall vehicle dynamics, lightweight and modern sustainable luxury.”
This car is described as an electric limousine, one said to use a lengthened version of the Porsche J1 (or PPE) architecture, which underpins the Porsche Taycan and Audi E-Tron GT. Though both these J1-based models are sedans, their larger, as-of-yet hypothetical Bugatti derivative could have a different body style as long as it’s not an SUV body, which a Bugatti spokesperson confirmed to The Drive.
Despite top speed no longer being Bugatti’s priority, performance will still be, as this project is reported to use a tri-motor all-wheel-drive system making 870 horsepower. Like the Chiron, it is reported to make heavy use of exotic materials such as carbon fiber, reducing curb weight for better efficiency, performance, and handling.
Bugatti reportedly hopes power will come from solid-state batteries, known also as solid-electrolyte batteries. Laboratory testing suggests that solid-state batteries have better energy density, less weight, faster charging, and less degradation when compared to current lithium-ion or lithium-polymer batteries, but major battery suppliers are skeptical as to how quickly the technology can be commercialized. Problems with scaling solid-state batteries up to electric car sizes mean that imminent use of the tech isn’t realistic—Tesla’s supplier Pansonic predicts it’ll be at least a decade before we see them in cars.
Bugatti reportedly plans to make the model capable of SAE Level 4 autonomy, though as previously outlined by The Drive, the SAE’s system is flawed and conflates the distinct concepts of automation and autonomy.
Winkelmann has reportedly not yet bid for approval from the board of Bugatti’s overseer the Volkswagen Auto Group to proceed with the Royale’s development, which will allegedly take at least four years to reach fruition if approved. If the board does give Winkelmann the go-ahead, this vehicle should be expected to arrive in 2023 or beyond, at a reported price of approximately $794,000.
A Bugatti spokesperson clarified to The Drive that despite the extensive detail of the above claims, this vehicle remains hypothetical, a project that is not yet underway. If it did proceed, the spokesperson hinted that Bugatti wouldn’t seek to follow the market’s trend toward crossovers and SUVs, but would instead try to lead a new trend.
But before this electric model arrives, Bugatti is reported to be planning at least a couple further variants of the Chiron. Look to the recent $18-million La Voiture Noire one-off or last year’s Chiron-derived Divo for Bugatti’s benchmark for its upcoming special Chirons.
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