Overview of Bugatti‘s Electric Scooter

French luxury automaker Bugatti – legendary for outrageously expensive and blisteringly fast internal combustion supercars – raised eyebrows in 2022 by unveiling its first ever electric vehicle: the Bugatti 9.0 e-scooter. With a $1,200 price tag and top speed of just 18 mph, it‘s an unexpected diversion for a brand better known for 250mph, multi-million hypercars.

This article analyzes why one of the staunchest defenders of gas-guzzling excess decided to dip a toe into affordable electric mobility – and what the eccentric scooter experiment might signal about the future of the brand.

Bugatti: A Brand Anchored in Tradition and Performance Pedigree

Founded in 1909 by Italian-born Ettore Bugatti, the Molsheim-based manufacturer made its name hand-crafting bespoke vehicles obsessionally engineered for beauty, luxury and extreme high speed. The Bugatti Type 35 racked up over 2,000 race wins through the 1920s. The iconic Bugatti Royale pioneered uncompromising excess as one of the first prestige ultra-luxury vehicles.

Bugatti‘s lineage of blisteringly quick and unapologetically ostentatious performance grant it a cult following among petrolheads. Today, the modern Bugatti Veyron and Chiron models carry that DNA forward: 8 liter W16 quad-turbocharged engines churning out 1,500 horsepower, hitting 60 mph in under 3 seconds before topping out at 260 mph.

These vehicles push internal combustion technology to the limits while setting new supercar performance benchmarks. But they also utterly flout emerging eco standards – the Chiron Super Sport burns through tires every 31 miles.

SpecBugatti Chiron Super Sport
0-60 mph2.3 sec
Top Speed273 mph
Power1,577 HP
Engine8.0L W16 Quad Turbo
Fuel Economy~8 mpg
Price$3.9 million

Bugatti‘s six figure price tags and gas-swilling engines cement its identity around indulgent excess. But also make adapting to a zero emissions, electric future challenging both technologically and in preserving heritage brand perceptions.

An Electric Future Looms: Can Bugatti Transition?

The days are numbered for sports and supercar brands that rely exclusively on Earth-destroying internal combustion. Regulatory rumblings from the EU and elsewhere aim to ban the sale of new gas vehicles outright in little over a decade.

Bugatti falls under the umbrella of Volkswagen Group – itself forced into major mea culpas after 2015‘s diesel emissions cheating scandal. As part of its penance, VW has earmarked over $100B to electrify its broad portfolio of brands, pledging 70 new electric models across marques ranging from Skoda to Lamborghini in just the next few years alone.

Squaring these ambitious production targets with the performance expectations of customers purchasing $3 million boutique hypercars is…tricky, to put it mildly.

As Mate Rimac – CEO of Bugatti under its new partnership with his own electric hypercar company – notes: "Our customers have extremely high expectations of us when it comes to the everyday usability of our hyper sports cars and it’s a huge challenge to meet these with electric mobility."

Hence Bugatti is buying time while it wrestles with exactly what electrification looks like when you‘re starting from 1,500 horsepower ICE benchmarks.

A Surprise Diversification Into E-Scooters

Given this context, Bugatti‘s newly launched e-scooter draws curious eyes. It seems an aberration for a brand so anchored on excess and performance to diversify into such a tangential, mobility side hustle.

But the ways of luxury brands are often strange and wondrous. The calculus seems to be an affordable electric product generating some lifestyle branding cachet with a young, urban demographic – all while keeping the storied Bugatti name current during its awkward electric transition phase. Think dipping a toe into electrification without expectations to outdo its core ICE hypercar business…just yet.

And prestige branding opens doors. While Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke can only dream of owning a multi-million Chiron, he can splash around $1,200 on a Bugatti e-scooter for some aspirational lifestyle signaling. Lets dive deeper into this perplexing vehicle:

The Bugatti 9.0 E-Scooter by the Numbers

SpecBugatti 9.0Xiaomi M365Segway Ninebot Max
Top Speed18.5 mph15.5 mph18.6 mph
Range25 mi~18 mi40 mi
Motor Power600W300W350W
Weight35 lbs27 lbs42 lbs
Load Capacity242 lbs220 lbs220 lbs
Charge Time4 hr5 hr8 hr
Water ResistanceIP55IP54IPX5

Retailing for $1,200, the aviation grade alloy-and-carbon 9.0 sits firmly at the premium end for electric scooters. Hefty specs like a 600W motor and 25 mile range mostly justify the pricing. IP55 water resistance rating also positions the 9.0 better for riding in all weathers compared to budget models.

Of course, specs aren‘t the full story for an emotive brand like Bugatti. This e-scooter drips with the kinds of considered design touches and bold colors that made the Veyron visually iconic. Viewed in person it feels substantive and lust-worthy in ways budget e-scooters don‘t match. True to Bugatti form, they nailed the aspirational aesthetics.

Strategic Diversification: Smart Brand Evolution or Dilution?

Plenty scoffed when Lamborghini branded e-bikes back in 2016. But Bugatti isn‘t alone in the high performance car space in trying its hand at electric two wheelers. Porsche has been in the e-bike game for years, while Ferrari dropped an e-scooter line in 2021, likely with similar thinking to its prancing horse brand mate.

Expanding into accessible lifestyle products hits a demographic less interested traditional supercars, while glomming onto the micro mobility trend redefining short range urban transportation. The halo effect from the prestige car branding in theory also lets manufacturers price the niche products higher and pull bigger margins.

But there‘s a fine line between capitalizing on brand cachet and over-extending into areas that undermine exclusive perception. As marketing professor Jonathan Schroeder notes, "If you buy Ferrari kit for your Fiat, what does the Ferrari brand mean anymore?"

"If you buy Ferrari kit for your Fiat, what does the Ferrari brand mean anymore?"

On the other hand, iconic brands constantly tweak strategies to stay contemporary without losing heritage essence. Porsche sells far more SUVs than rear-engine sports cars these days, but still retains its essence among enthusiasts.

For Bugatti, their haute couture brand image was born in the early 1900s. Petrol was state of the art technology then; now its electric propulsion. So perhaps an e-scooter isn‘t so left field for refreshing perception among younger audiences?

Either way, the 9.0 will remain a low volume halo project rather than a shift to volume manufacturing. Only 1,500 units will roll out in the first year – daily output for some mass market automakers. Exclusivity still reigns.

What Does This Hint About Bugatti‘s Electric Future?

Strict speed enforcement makes hypercar performance redundant on public roads anyway. Usability, comfort, exclusivity and sensory theater become more relevant to the category. This transition may allow Bugatti to rethink positional perceptions without losing heritage essence.

And Bugatti is fast realizing internal expertise isn‘t sufficient alone for developing electric supercars genuinely competitive with market leaders. Handing custodianship of the brand over to Rimac and its bleeding edge EV hypercar know-how allows Bugatti to get in the fast lane.

"Our job is to preserve all the DNA and heritage of Bugatti as a luxury brand, while reinventing it for the electric era with Rimac’s exciting technologies."Mate Rimac, Bugatti CEO

But even Rimac faces challenges translating brutal straight line speed into a more nuanced grand touring theater. As Mate Rimac notes, “Range is easy but lap times are hard”.

Still, Rimac is also pioneering radical modular architectures for electric supercars. These could enable customizable modules engineered for swapping extreme performance or range components depending on planned usage. Daily driving or road trips might emphasize cabin comfort and 400 miles of range, while track days unlock maximum power over 50 mile bursts.

And Rumor suggests Bugatti has already green-lit an electric model codenamed "Bordeaux" for release around 2026, benefiting from EV platforms pioneered in Porsche, Audi and Bentley models. Target benchmark? On par with petrol Chiron‘s 1,500 horsepower and 260 mph.

An Iconic Brand Begins Its Electric Journey

Will Bugatti‘s electric offerings evoke the emotions and fervor that its combustion-powered forebears did at their peak? Time will tell. But the 9.0 e-scooter demonstrates an openness to adapt through flux rather than rigidly clinging to tradition. Reinvention doesn‘t mean losing heritage essence.

An electric revolution brings upheaval, but also possibility to re-imagine hyper exclusive vehicles around human-focused experiential luxury more sustainably. This first awkward e-scooter experiment merely hints at the shape of innovations to come.

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