Ettore and Jean Bugatti built just six Type 41 Royales, a car so magnificent that it remains the standard by which luxury cars are measured. So it is no surprise that Bugatti is rumored to be reviving the revered nameplate—on an electric vehicle.
When Volkswagen Group resurrected Bugatti in 1999, it wanted to build the fastest production car in the world. That raison d'etre has changed. “In Bugatti’s future, maximum speed does not play the leading role any more,” company president Stephan Winkelmann told Car. “From now on, we are going to put an emphasis on ultimate overall vehicle dynamics, lightweight and modern sustainable luxury.”
Like the original Royale, the new model slated for 2023 will be a limousine. But it will break with tradition by ditching the 779-cubic-inch straight-eight (which doesn't sound very sustainable) for an electric drivetrain. Car says that the new Royale will ride on a stretched version of the upcoming Porsche Taycan EV's J1 platform.
Given that the Taycan is just 189 inches long, it will be a considerable stretch if Bugatti wants the new Royale to mirror the original, which, at 252 inches, has more than five feet on the Porsche. Bugatti is expected to make liberal use of composite materials to keep weight down.
The current trend in electric propulsion is the development of solid-state batteries. Replacing the liquid or gel electrolytes in conventional lithium-ion batteries with a solid substitute could make cells smaller and more powerful. As the new Royale is still four years away, it is hoped that the solid-state power packs will be developed in time to use them.
Car says the all-wheel-drive über-limo will rely on three electric motors with a combined output of 870 horsepower. With two of them almost certainly slated for the rear axles, you can expect Bugatti engineers to use torque vectoring to improve handling. Other tech features will likely include fully driverless operation and a digital concierge service.
In terms of styling, an updated version of the 2009 Galibier luxury sedan concept would not be unexpected.
As with the original Royale, Bugatti will offer an unrivaled level of interior customization and may even offer a catalog of coachbuilt bodies from which to choose in the ultimate in personalization. Not bad for a car expected to cost $800,000 or so.