One of the biggest thrillers being written in the car industry right now is what Volkswagen does to recover from its cheating diesel scandal. Estimates of the cost to VW Group vary widely, but most agree $10 billion is probably on the low end. That’s a lot of cash, even for one of the world’s largest auto manufacturers; questions abound over which projects, new cars, or even brands might find themselves in for the corporate axe. The latest plot twist will take many by surprise: VW-owned Bugatti will indeed build a replacement for the Veyron.
In October we learned that the new Phaeton—a technological flagship sedan that no one bought—would survive as an electric vehicle. R&D spending would be cut too; VW had has spending ~$12.6 billion a year on research, more than any of its competitors. The Bugatti Chiron was thought to be a goner for sure. VW Group is thought to have lost almost $5 million on every Veyron it sold and continuing to build ornate rocketships for plutocrats could seem at odds with a sober corporate rehabilitation strategy. But more than 100 orders were already on the books and the car will debut in 2016, the company announced today.
How does one top a Veyron? According to Bugatti boss Wolfgang Dürheimer, “the Chiron will set new standards in every respect. We will continue to produce the world’s most powerful, fastest, most luxurious and most exclusive production super sports car. This is the claim of Bugatti and our customers.” The new car will still use a turbocharged 8L W16 engine and all-wheel drive, but power is rumored to be up 50 percent at almost 1500hp (1100kW). Expect a mighty price tag too.
Audi’s diesel-powered Le Mans prototype program is also safe. Yesterday the company unveiled the 2016 car (pictured above) and both Audi and Porsche are set to contest next year’s World Endurance Championship, although neither will field a three-car team for Le Mans in June.
Meanwhile, VW’s diesel scandal continues to play out. At the beginning of November, the US Environmental Protection Agency notified VW, Audi, and Porsche (PDF) that it believed the 3L V6 turbodiesel also contained defeat device software. And there are now allegations that former VW boss Martin Winterkorn knew about the emissions scandal in 2014.