Croatian carmaker Rimac Automobili is about to take over luxury hypercar marque Bugatti from the Volkswagen Group, according to report by Car Magazine. Bugatti ownership will be handed over to Rimac via Porsche, in exchange for a greater share in the Croatian hypercar maker.

Porsche acquired a 10% stake in the Croatian firm in June 2018, and a year later increased its share in Rimac to 15.5% in September 2019. Sources told the magazine that Volkswagen executives approved the acqusition deal last week, though it has yet to be signed off by the supervisory board.

The German sports car maker joins other companies such as Hyundai, Jaguar, Koenigsegg and Magna as investors in the electromobility-focused firm that brought models such as the Concept_One and the C_Two, and Car Magazine notes that founder Mate Rimac has counted up to 15 car companies that are using its tech knowledge.

Rimac founder Mate Rimac holds a 51% majority interest in the Croatian company

The Volkswagen Group no longer wants to spend money and other resources on extravagant brands such as Bugatti, which was acquired by former group CEO and supervisory chairman Ferdinand Piech, who during his tenure also took on luxury brands Bentley and Lamborghini, along with motorcycle brand Ducati via Audi. Piech fell out with Volkswagen in 2015, and later passed away in 2019.

The change in group-wide focus to electrification and autonomous driving is being adapted by most of its brands, including Porsche and in coming years, Bentley as well, though Bugatti’s position at the top of the Volkswagen Group of brands as a top speed-focused halo leaves the French brand little room to manoeuvre, especially in purely internal combustion-engined form with limited sales, Car Magazine notes.

Volkswagen dropping Bugatti, a brand much beloved by the late Piech, would not have gone down well with the surviving Piech family members, who own 50% of the controlling interest in the Volkswagen Group, though the latter’s concerns would have been allayed by putting Porsche – the company central to the interests of the Piech family – at the heart of the deal, Car Magazine writes.

Lamborghini is among the next batch of brands reportedly under consideration for offloading

Rimac is yet to be publicly traded, with founder Mate Rimac holding a 51% majority interest. The largest secondary shareholders are Porsche and Chinese battery manufacturer the Camel Group, and the latest funding round sees Rimac valued at more than 500 million euros (RM2.48 billion). Bugatti is possibly valued around the aforementioned figure, though Rimac’s true value is yet to be determined by an initial public offering, the magazine notes.

As for Bugatti, current CEO Stephan Winkelmann is unlikely to remain at the brand’s helm should the Volkswagen supervisory board sign off on its offloading to Rimac, report author Georg Kacher notes; Bugatti declined to comment on the rumours when contacted by the magazine.

Additionally, sources around the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer group repeats that there are other brands within the portfolio that could depart. Under consideration for offloading are, in this order, Lamborghini, Seat (set to merge with Cupra, which will take the lead for the Spanish brand), design studio Ital Design, Bentley and Ducati, Car Magazine said.