As Volkswagen Group shifts its focus to high-volume electric vehicles and self-driving technology, the costly bill to transform its niche brands like Bentley, Bugatti, Ducati and Lamborghini is becoming harder to justify.
There have been rumors in recent months about VW Group potentially offloading one or more of the brands, but the automaker Monday put some of the rumors to rest by announcing that Bentley, Ducati and Lamborghini will remain part of the group.
There was no mention of the fate of Bugatti, which has been tied to a potential sale to Rimac, the Croatian electric vehicle technology company that also builds low-volume hypercars. CAR reported in September that VW Group could sell Bugatti to Rimac in return for an increased stake in the EV tech firm. VW Group through its Porsche brand already holds 15.5% of Rimac, making it the second biggest shareholder after company founder Mate Rimac.
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There was also no mention of the fate of Italian design company Italdesign, which VW Group also owns and has been tied to a potential spinoff together with Ducati and Lamborghini.
As for Bentley, VW Group in its Monday announcement said the British brand starting next March will be managed by Audi. Currently, Bentley is managed by Porsche which also manages Bugatti. Bentley in the coming decade will become more integrated with Audi, as it prepares to go all-electric by 2030.
VW Group also said Monday that its main plant adjacent to its headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, will become the lead plant for introducing highly automated manufacturing of EVs. A new skunkworks team will be established to develop efficient production methods aimed at reducing costs, with the first vehicle to utilize the new methods to be built in Wolfsburg for the Volkswagen brand.