Bugatti, the maker of the world’s fastest production car, has won backing from parent Volkswagen AG to build the 16C Galibier sedan, adding a four-door model to its lineup, two people familiar with the matter said.
The Galibier, which premiered as a concept vehicle at the 2010 Geneva auto show, has a 1,000-horsepower engine and may cost about 1 million euros ($1.4 million), said the people, who declined to be named as the plans are still private.
“Four-door vehicles open up a whole new market for exotic-car makers,” said Kevin Tynan, an automotive analyst for Bloomberg Industries. “It makes good sense for Bugatti to get in there. Those cars are loyal to design language and brand heritage.”
Ultra-luxury nameplates are expanding their lineups to larger vehicles as the recovery from the financial crisis fuels demand. Ferrari SpA introduced the four-seat FF, the first Ferrari with four-wheel drive, in March. The first year’s production of the 260,000-euro model is already sold out.
Lamborghini SpA, another Volkswagen unit, is considering adding a third model to its portfolio of two-seater vehicles and plans to make a decision by the end of the year, Chief Executive Officer Stephan Winkelmann said at the Geneva show last month. The CEO has called a four-door car “a very feasible approach.”
Wolfgang Duerheimer, the former development chief at Porsche AG who took over as head of Bugatti and Bentley in February, has been pushing VW managers to approve production of the Galibier since taking charge, the two people said.
Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen agreed to build the model, which relies on a 16-cylinder engine that can run on biofuel as well as gasoline, they said. Production will require facilities in Molsheim, France, to be refitted, which may push back deliveries until 2013 or 2014, the people said.
Volkswagen purchased the Bugatti brand in 1998 along with Lamborghini and Bentley Motors Ltd. to create a stable of high-end carmakers. Under VW’s reign, the super-luxury brand, which traces its roots back to Italian-born car designer Ettore Bugatti, started production of the two-door Veyron 16.4 in 2005, limiting output to no more than 300 vehicles.
Bugatti, which makes about 50 cars a year, has introduced two derivatives of the Veyron since 2008, the Grand Sport and Super Sport models. The Super Sport is the world’s fastest production car, with a top speed of 268 miles per hour.
The name Galibier stems from one of France’s most difficult Alpine passes featured in the Tour de France bicycle race and also served as name for an earlier four-door variant called Type 57.