Bugatti is working on a successor to its Chiron hypercar, a car Mate Rimac, the CEO of the Bugatti Rimac partnership, said in February would be a hybrid and not an electric hypercar. That caught many by surprise, considering Rimac founded EV technology company Rimac.

Now Rimac has another surprise. In an interview with Auto Express published on Thursday, Rimac revealed that his technology company started developing the engine for the Chiron successor two years ago, when he was first in talks with Volkswagen Group about taking control of Bugatti and forming the Bugatti Rimac partnership.

The need for a new engine was clear as Bugatti was planning to phase out its famous quad-turbo 8.0-liter W-16, which it is now doing with the Chiron-based Mistral roadster, and Rimac was adamant he wanted the Chiron successor to be a hybrid. In his interview with Auto Express, Rimac said Bugatti was planning an electric crossover as the successor to the Chiron, and that he had to convince senior management that a hybrid hypercar was the way to go.

Mate Rimac

Mate Rimac

“It wasn't an easy time, but I knew exactly what I wanted the next car (after the Chiron) to be and we started developing a combustion engine on our own,” he said. “We started developing a new combustion engine two years before we took over the company, which is something I guess nobody expected.”

The hybrid route will help differentiate future Bugattis from Rimac's electric hypercars. According to Rimac, Bugattis will also continue to focus on craftsmanship, analog dials, and beautiful design, while Rimacs will continue down the more modern route of injecting more technology like autonomous modes for drifting or running hot laps.

Rimac said Bugatti will have something to show next year. However, production of the Chiron successor will likely take several years to begin as Bugatti still has close to 100 Chirons to build, and then will have to build the 99 Mistrals it plans.