For a brand that made its name creating cars to grab every record in the book, Bugatti has always faced an existential question; what’s next after creating the world’s fastest and most expensive hypercars?
The answer, as reported by CAR magazine, is to revive the legendary Bugatti Royale nameplate as an all-electric uber-limousine.
Picture: Bugatti 16C Galibier concept
Expected to go on sale around 2023, the new Royale will allegedly be built on Porsche’s J1 platform, which will be used to underpin the brand’s Taycan all-electric sedan. Unlike the Taycan however, the Royale is expected to be bigger and much more luxurious than the Taycan, as befitting of its stature as the ultimate luxury limousine.
Also unlike the Taycan, Bugatti hopes that the Royale would be able to utilise solid-state battery cells instead of the conventional lithium-ion batteries used in nearly all present production electric cars.
Solid-state batteries are said to be more compact with better heat resistance and have a higher energy density than their lithium-ion counterparts. However, battery suppliers currently haven’t been able to mass produce it on a scale suitable for electric vehicle applications.
Picture: Porsche Taycan development prototype
Regardless of the power source, the report claims that the Royale would have three electric motors producing 650kW that will be sent through all four wheels, will come loaded with Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities and sport a proposed price tag of €700,000 (AUD $1.1m).
According to the report, top-speed records aren’t in the Royale’s sights as Bugatti’s president Stephan Winkelmann wants to divert the brand’s focus away from top speed.
“From now on, we are going to put an emphasis on ultimate overall vehicle dynamics, light weight, and modern sustainable luxury,” Winkelmann said in the report.
The idea of a four door Bugatti isn’t new to the Volkswagen-owned company as it previously mooted the idea back in 2009 with the Bugatti 16C Galibier concept.
As for the ‘Royale’ name, it harks back to Bugatti’s pre-war Type 41 limousine. Built between 1927 and 1933, the Royale was touted to be the most luxurious car ever built. It is believed that 'inspiration' for the Royale came as a response to a customer who compared Ettore Bugatti's cars unfavourably to those from Rolls-Royce.
Whether there is truth to the yarn is uncertain, but Bugatti certainly went to town in creating the Royale, and ended up designing a 6.4-metre long, 3-tonne leviathan with a 205kW 12.7-litre straight-eight engine that was also used to power a number of railcars operated by the French National Railway.
Picture: Bugatti Type 41 Royale
Unfortunately for Bugatti, the Great Depression rained on the Roaring ‘20s and reigned in customer spending. Of the 25 examples Bugatti intended to build, only seven Royales were ever produced of which six remain in existence today.