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Bugatti considers hybrid follow-up to Veyron supercar

Bugatti may build a hybrid successor to its 1,200-hp Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, sources said.

The new model will beat the 431kph (268 mph) top speed of Bugatti’s Veyron Super Sport, the sources said. The Veyron Super Sport lost the title of the world’s fastest production car in February to the Hennessey Venom GT.

The two-door model may rely on a 1,500-hp, 16-cylinder engine and will probably be limited to about 450 cars, the same as the expiring Veyron, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

Bugatti, owned by Volkswagen Group, has developed the blueprint for a 2015 follow-up model to the $1.7 million limited-series Veyron that may sell out this year, sources at VW said.

New Bugatti CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer favors a hybrid version of the brand’s next model, the sources said on condition they not be identified because the matter is confidential.

“The new model will not be less exciting than the Veyron,” a Bugatti spokeswoman said, without being more specific. “Our customers have certain expectations.”

Ultraluxury nameplates such as Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche are embracing electric powertrains after being on the cutting edge for years in upgrading chassis and engine electronics while striving to trim CO2 emissions.

Hybrid systems used in McLaren’s P1 model and Porsche’s 918 Spyder work to boost performance and fuel economy.

“Moving to hybrid propulsion seems like a logical next step” for supercar makers, said Stefan Bratzel, head of the Centre of Automotive Management near Cologne. “By curbing emissions and boosting performance, they can justify building more of these cars.”

VW acquired the Bugatti brand in 1998 along with Lamborghini and Bentley Motors to create a stable of high-end carmakers. VW doesn’t break out Bugatti’s earnings in quarterly or annual reporting, but a company source says the brand has been losing money for years on high development costs for the Veyron.

Under VW’s reign, the superluxury brand, which traces its roots back to Italian-born car designer Ettore Bugatti, started production of the Veyron series in 2005.

Some 430 of the 450 planned models have been sold, the spokeswoman said.