This year the automotive industry says its goodbyes as it parts ways with the 2015 Bugatti Veyron supercar, the last unit of its kind and practically a legend in its own right.
"An unprecedented chapter in automotive history has reached its climax," Bugatti President Wolfgang Duerheimer said in a statement. "Even 10 years after its market launch, the Veyron remains unique in many respects."
The Bugatti Veyron is certainly unique, and that uniqueness is reflected in the brand itself: While many household-name automakers, such as Ford Motor Company and General Motors, focus on increasing sales, that's the opposite of Bugatti's strategy.
Bugatti, owned by Volkswagen Group (NASDAQOTH: VLKAY), takes exclusivity to the extreme. The brand sold only 10 vehicles in the first quarter of 2015, a total of 45 last year, and the Veyron has sold only 450 units spanning multiple trims since its debut in 2005. Though it isn't a perfect comparison, consider that Lamborghini sold more than 2,500 units last year, and that's a pretty pricey and exclusive brand as well. Bugatti's insane exclusivity is one large reason its average price tag reached $2.6 million per ride.
That ridiculous price tag was only matched by the Veyron's performance. The original Veyron boasted more than 1,000 horsepower, and that was later upgraded to 1,200 horsepower in the recent Grand Sport versions. Heck, the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse even managed to set a speed record of 268 miles per hour.
The only thing more shocking than the Bugatti Veyron's horsepower, miles per hour, or price tag is the fact that it doesn't turn a penny of profit for Volkswagen. In fact, it loses roughly twice the amount of its price tag. You read that correctly: Volkswagen loses an estimated $5 million per Veyron it sells, according to Bloomberg.
However, making money was never on Bugatti's list of goals -- making money is for the other 10.1 million vehicles Volkswagen Group sells globally.
"You need prestige projects like this to showcase technological excellence," said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, according to Bloomberg. "Yes, it costs money, but it won't cause VW any turbulence."
The goal of Bugatti's Veyron was to prove that Volkswagen engineers could accomplish what everybody in the automotive industry thought was impossible. It was supposed to set the bar for exclusivity, elegance, and performance -- check, check, and check. The goal of Bugatti was to produce ridiculous vehicle models that command headline-generating price tags, set world production car speed records, and draw hundreds of people around the very final production unit for sale, as it did at the Geneva Auto Show with the 2015 Bugatti Veyron "La Finale."
The 2015 Bugatti Veyron's, as well as its predecessors', impact on its parent company Volkswagen can be difficult to measure. However, it's unmistakable that the brand's name has arguably more influence in magazines, blogs, headlines of any kind, even rap songs, than any other vehicle under the Volkswagen umbrella -- that's marketing that can be tough, if not impossible, to purchase. In a way, Bugatti's purpose is for Volkswagen engineers and designers to flex their muscle with no limitations; to show the world of consumers that the affordable Volkswagen product they can purchase is produced under the same umbrella of engineers responsible for Bugatti supercars.
So, now that we're all waving goodbye to the last 2015 Bugatti Veyron, the details on its replacement are still a little murky. Bugatti is certainly working on its next supercar for 2016, dubbed the Chiron, and rumors have it that it will have an engine generating 25% more horsepower than the outgoing model, roughly 1,500 hp, and could have a top speed of 288 mph. It's also believed that the 2016 Chiron will boast 16 cylinders in a W formation and reach 62 mph in two seconds flat. The new Bugatti model will likely be unveiled at the end of 2015 or early next year, and the only thing we know is that if making money isn't a priority, this could be the most insane production vehicle yet.
Daniel Miller owns shares of Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool recommends Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.