It says a lot about the current automotive climate when even Bugatti is having to conform to prevailing trends and justify output - but that's exactly what the latest product rumours are suggesting. If Bloomberg is to be believed - and following a recent interview with the man in charge, there's no reason why it shouldn't be - the manufacturer is in the process of developing a four-seat car, priced between €500,000 and €1,000,000, powered solely by electricity.
It would mark a huge step change for the Molsheim-based company, given that all previous cars since the Veyron resurrected Bugatti for the 2000s having been powered by an 8.0-litre, W16 leviathan. Both Veyron and Chiron have claimed the title of fastest car ever made; both have been super exclusive and terrifyingly expensive - and that's before considering the limited editions, too. An EV, believed at the moment to be either a GT or SUV, would change all that: from 100 cars a year production would rise to 600, and it obviously wouldn't have the 250mph+ cachet of the hypercars.
So why do it? Put simply, even Bugatti isn't immune from the realities of running a business - not when its parent company has been forced into a rigorous consideration of the books in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal. Don't forget that Bugatti exists alongside both Bentley and Lamborghini in the empire, covering off luxury and performance pretty well for VW. It must earn its keep, too - as former Lamborghini boss Stephen Winkelmann knows only too well - and produce a viable line up to ensure both profitability and its own relevance inside the world's second largest car maker.
The Bloomberg interview has Winkelmann stating that the brand is "earning decent money"; should be simple enough selling hypercars, but remember how the Veyron haemorrhaged money in development and cost Bugatti a lot of money. Apparently funding for such niche projects is now a "tough fight", unsurprising given the current belt-tightening alongside and renewed focus on electrification and autonomy. Notably, Winkelmann believes that Bugatti has completed its phase of pursuing performance milestones and must increase appeal to buyers as a luxury brand.
Therefore something like a super-opulent EV makes sense - especially to the man who signed off the . Urus. Don't forget it's a strategy being employed by Lagonda for its return, and hybrid Bentleys are a stepping stone to Crewe's own fully electric model. With battery ranges seemingly increasing by the day, alongside the popularity of SUVs, the notion of something like a big Bugatti crossover powered by batteries seems eminently more believable than it would have even a few years ago.
Winkelmann will be unafraid of the purists who say different. He faced them down at Lamborghini, and now Sant'Agata is producing more cars than ever. In times like these, loss-making - or indeed just low volume - vanity projects can no longer be justified simply on their own merit. Even when you're Bugatti.