Bugatti’s new boss knows his limits

Bugatti’s new boss knows his limits

From the April 2023 issue of Car and Driver.

Around 2005, I interviewed Victor Muller, CEO of Spyker, and asked him why he started the car company. He replied, “Why does the dog lick [itself], Because it can.”

He then promised that I would soon be driving a Spyker, which turned out to be very similar to the pledge he made a few years later about saving Saab. The point is, it seems to me that to start a car company, you have to be an overconfident lunatic. I bring this up for two reasons: first, I’ve been waiting for a chance to use Victor Müller’s quote for years, and second, I’ve recently been proven wrong. The Met remake isn’t a lunatic, ego- or otherwise intelligent being, even though it has every right to be.

At 35, he doesn’t just have a Bugatti—he has a Bugatti. Duration. And sometimes, he is as intimidated by her as everyone else.

Rimek says, “If my 20-year-old self could see a day in my life, he would be amazed but also think that a few other things must have happened.” Namely, he thought that his main enterprise would be the manufacture of cars, perhaps with some technical consultancy. However, it turned out to be the opposite. The kid who once motor-swapped a BMW E36 to build a tire-frying EV is now working that brand of behind-the-scenes magic for OEMs. And he’s busy building a remake of the Navara, which set a new EV production-car record of 258 mph at Germany’s Papenburg test track. I’d like to put one of their SMP_900 motors in an old Bronco—it makes 603 horsepower, has 664 pound-feet of torque, and weighs 106 pounds. That’s pretty decent power density compared to the 351 Windsor.

When, about three years ago, Volkswagen’s strategy chief proposed that Rimac take over Bugatti, he didn’t respond for three weeks. “I thought I heard him wrong, or that there was something wrong with the matrix, so I didn’t respond,” he says. But it wasn’t a fluke, and now Mate Remake is working on the first car to be a Bugatti Remake—which will be a hybrid, not an EV.

“I know how to make a very exciting electric powertrain and a very exciting combustion powertrain,” he says. Think naturally aspirated and 2000 total horsepower. Very different from a Navara, and intentionally so.

Rimac is a vegan who is painfully aware of humanity’s ecological idiosyncrasies, and he is striving to make his operations as sustainable as possible – recycling rainwater in the premises of his new factory in Sveta Nedelja, Croatia, and even That plans to grow some food there to help feed the food. 1900 employees of the company. There is no fence around the property so neighborhood kids can look in the windows and see cars being built. There are fields and woods surrounding the factory—but the fields and woods are equipped with electrical outlets and Wi-Fi in case employees want to work outside. The perimeter road includes racetrack corner curbing. He says the decisions were informed by the question, “How can one person here have the best day ever?” I’ll take a brief pause while you Google “going to Croatia”.

But Remack’s idealistic leanings coexist with cold realism, which is possible because he is rational and the world is complex. He knows that he alone cannot change the trajectory of humanity. And there are inherent contradictions in, say, owning a Porsche Carrera GT and producing a gas-powered Bugatti while worrying about the impact of consumerism on the planet. “I don’t know what the answer is,” he says. “The real change would be owning two pairs of pants, but I don’t think we’re going back to that.”

So it will continue to build cool cars, but it also has some ideas for energy storage and robotaxis and is turning its new campus into an even bigger one. “You get here by solving problems every day,” he says. “It’s a million steps you have to take. It still doesn’t feel like we’ve made it.”

This is the right attitude. Even if he is wrong.

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Ezra Dyer is a car and driver Senior editor and columnist. He is now based in North Carolina but still remembers how to turn right. He owns a 2009 GEM e4 and once went 206 mph. Those facts are mutually exclusive.

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