The Golden Era of Bugatti?
It was 2018 when Volkswagen’s subsidiary, Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S., announced Stephan Winkelmann would take the helm of Bugatti as its CEO and this decision shaped the beloved hypercar brand forever.
Under his supervision, the brand unveiled the Veyron successor: The Chiron, a 1479HP hypercar powered by the company’s own W16, and named after the race driver Louis Chiron from Monaco, with a price tag just over 2.4 Million Euros.
Followed a few limited edition units just like it happened with the Bugatti Veyron: special interior trims, small aesthetic changes, minor technical tweaks, but nothing truly extraordinary.
After observing the success of his former strategy as President and CEO of Lamborghini, Winkelmann decided to go ahead with its series of limited/one-off creations with bold designs, loud brand statements, and last but not least: an extremely profitable business model.
A business model where you take a production chassis with all homologation and production costs already offset by its production run (Take the Aventador as an example with the Veneno and the Centenario as outcome).
This way, the most expensive and time-consuming part of crafting an automobile is already taken off the table. Now the existing in-house design and engineering teams take over work designing a new interior and exterior that is not only outrageous in terms of design but also within limits and regulations - avoiding the expensive and time-consuming homologation process.
Here it is, now you have a unique or extremely limited edition automobile with a production cost well below the million-dollar mark that will not only be sold for multiples of this amount but also generate several times its worth in PR value.
Despite the profitable business model, this is a win-win game for everyone involved: not only the manufacturer directly profits from the sales/PR but also the select clients own a piece of the brand’s history that will appreciate its value over time and stand as an exceptional status symbol.
A creation like this impacts not only these but also other existing clients that now have something new to aspire for, and that's how the luxury industry fundamentally evolves - creating new targets to aim for.
Now, instead of the “regular” +11,000 unit standard production Hurracan, or even +1,000 unit limited editions Aventador SV that become common in certain circles in an age where the UHNWI community grows faster than ever in history.
With demand not showing signs of slowing down, will Bugatti be responsible for a major movement in the automotive world once again? Hopefully yes, back in 2004 the revolution kickstarted by the Bugatti Veyron brought sportscars priced at over a million USD to a "new normal" over the following decade and now can do it again for the coachbuild market.
Back in the day, accepting such price tag in the industry fostered a wider profit margin opening doors to independent manufacturers to take this advantage in and grow into what they are today - just like Pagani or Koenigsegg. So what can a similar revolution into coachbuilding bring?