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Super-car maker Bugatti considering broader range of models

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Bugatti, the super-car brand that's pushed boundaries with 16 cylinder engines, top speeds beyond 200 miles an hour and eye-watering price tags, is considering a broader range of models befitting its affluent target audience.

[FRANKFURT] Bugatti, the super-car brand that's pushed boundaries with 16 cylinder engines, top speeds beyond 200 miles an hour and eye-watering price tags, is considering a broader range of models befitting its affluent target audience.

Up for discussion are a range of chassis and engine variants, as well as a sport utility vehicles or a crossover style that fits with the Volkswagen AG nameplate's billionaire target audience, Bugatti chief Stephan Winkelmann said on Tuesday in an interview at the Paris car show. VW's ultra-luxury brand currently makes different versions of the Chiron, and this week premiered the sold-out US$5.9 million Divo supercar in Europe.

"The brand is ready for more," Mr Winkelmann said, whose Divo boasts a 1,500 horsepower motor. "The W16 engine is at the core of the brand today, but it won't remain the heart forever and ever."

Demand for exclusive cars has been largely decoupled from a car industry battling tightening emission regulation and growing trade barriers. Vehicles like the Divo, Ferrari NV's Monza supercar or Aston Martin's Valkyrie tend to compete more with purchases of luxury apartments or yachts than affordable means of transportation. With few financial constraints, buyers look for assets that might become valuable collector items.

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In Divo's case, road-legal but built for the track with a top speed capped at 380 kilometres per hour, production is limited to 40 cars, enhancing the product's appeal just like the 1.6 million euro (S$2.5 million) Monza whose 499 output run is already allocated to Ferrari's most loyal customers.

An expansion at Bugatti, often mocked as a prime example of VW's excessive engineering budgets during the manufacturer's previous management, must be economically viable to go ahead, Mr Winkelmann said.

"We need to come up with a convincing pitch to our shareholders that justifies the related investment," the manager said, who previously ran VW's Italian subsidiary Lamborghini. A hybrid engine "could be part of the future - you have consider social acceptance in terms of emission".

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