It's been speculated since last fall but the Volkswagen Group has finally come out and confirmed a formal partnership between its Bugatti hypercar marque and fast-rising Croatian electric-vehicle technology company Rimac.
Under the deal announced on Monday, Bugatti will be transferred to a new joint venture 55% owned by Rimac and the remaining 45% owned by Porsche—the VW Group unit currently responsible for Bugatti and owner of a 24% stake in Rimac.
The new joint venture will be established in the fourth quarter of 2021 as Bugatti Rimac, with the headquarters to be situated at Rimac's expansive technology campus under construction in Zagreb, Croatia. Rimac CEO and founder Mate Rimac will double as CEO of the joint venture, overseeing about 430 employees.
Artist's impression of Rimac's new headquarters to built in Zagreb, Croatia
The Bugatti Rimac joint venture will combine Bugatti's historical significance, quality craftsmanship and lightweight construction skills with Rimac's expertise in vehicle electrification and high-performance electric powertrains.
Rimac also brings new development and organizational approaches, particularly in the area of software integration. Meanwhile, Bugatti also brings a high-tech production facility in Molsheim, France, as well as an established global dealer network. That dealer network will see Bugatti reach record sales in North America this year.
Bugatti Rimac will be responsible for cars for both the Bugatti and Rimac brands, starting with the Bugatti Chiron and recently revealed Rimac Nevera. Bugatti production will remain in France while Rimac production will remain in Croatia, where production of key components used by Bugatti will also be handled.
Despite partnering with an EV technology company, Bugatti won't abandon the internal-combustion engine just yet. Both hybrid and pure electric models are planned within this decade, with the first pure electric Bugatti likely to be a second model line. Previous Bugatti chief Stephan Winkelmann has hinted at a crossover of some sort for the second model line.
“I have always loved cars and can see at Bugatti where passion for cars can take you to,” Mate Rimac said in a statement. “I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am by the potential of these two brands combining knowledge, technologies and values to create some truly special projects in the future.”
Mate Rimac is the biggest shareholder of Rimac with a 37% stake. Next is Porsche with its 24% stake and then Hyundai Motor Group with a 12% stake. The remaining 27% is owned by smaller investors. To maintain some independence, Rimac is also creating a Rimac Technology unit that will handle licensing of technology to other parties.