Bugatti Rimac: Old and new worlds combine to form supercar giant

by Antony Ingram
6 July 2021 2 min read
Bugatti Rimac: Old and new worlds combine to form supercar giant
Photo: Bugatti Rimac

In the space of little more than a decade, Mate Rimac has gone from modifying an old BMW 3-series at home to leading one of the automotive world’s most famous brands into an electric future, with the announcement that Rimac Automobili and Bugatti Automobiles will join forces in a new company.

Known as Bugatti Rimac d.o.o., the venture begins a new chapter for electric vehicle experts Rimac and contributes to the rich and complex history of Bugatti. The Rimac Group becomes a 55 per cent majority shareholder, with Porsche taking 45 per cent – as well as maintaining its existing 24 per cent share of the Rimac Group.

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Admittedly, it’s difficult to get excited by the business side of things, and the real test will come when Bugatti Rimac reveals its first vehicles. Some of these will still be Rimac branded, but will no doubt also spawn a successor to Bugatti’s, and arguably the world’s current automotive flagship, the Chiron hypercar.

The two companies will continue to operate independently, though over time Bugatti Rimac’s global headquarters will be centred at Rimac Campus in Zagreb, Croatia from 2023, where all future Rimac and Bugatti hypercars will be developed.

Even if you’re not interested in the minutiae of who cosies up to who in the automotive industry, it’s difficult not to be impressed by Rimac, both the company and the man. Rimac’s first project of note, aged just 19, was conversion of an E30 BMW 3-series to electric power.

Just two years later in 2011 Rimac debuted the 1287bhp Concept One electric hypercar at the Geneva Motor Show. Over the past decade Rimac has worked both publicly and privately with numerous car manufacturers in the development of both electric concept cars and production models.

Previous clients have included everyone from Aston Martin and Koenigsegg to Jaguar and Hyundai, but the most notable development came in 2018, when Porsche acquired a 10 per cent stake in the company.

Pass the parcel: A brief history of Bugatti

1995 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport
Photo: DK Engineering

The Volkswagen Group’s ownership of Bugatti since 1998 represents one of the firm’s longest periods of stability in its history. While the Group will remain in charge of Bugatti Automobiles as a whole, Bugatti Rimac can be seen as a new chapter for the storied brand.

Founded by Ettore Bugatti in France in 1909, Bugatti was a leading light in automobile racing throughout the pre-war years, and achieved incredible success. A Bugatti won the first ever Monaco Grand Prix, and the brand saw victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice in the late 1930s, in addition to numerous other race wins.

After Ettore died in 1947 though, his company torn to shreds during the war, the brand eventually ceased operations in 1952. One of Ettore’s sons, Roland, attempted but failed to revive Bugatti in the mid-1950s, and Hispano-Suiza acquired the company in 1963, though little emerged.

It took Romano Artioli – later known for leading Lotus in the mid-1990s, which spawned the incredible Elise – to revive Bugatti in 1987. The now Italian brand produced one of the world’s most famous supercars of the time, the quad-turbo EB110, but its success was curtailed during the 1990s recession. Volkswagen acquired Bugatti in 1998, and at the behest of Ferdinand Piëch, head of the VW Group at the time, created the Veyron – effectively the world’s first hypercar.

Also read

Freeze Frame: British victor for the first Monaco Grand Prix
Could this Bugatti EB110 with matching bags be the ultimate road-tripper?
A Bugatti engine installation party is my kind of party

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