VW's Ultra-Car Maker Bugatti Joins the Push for Profitability

(Bloomberg) -- Bugatti, known for hand-building the $5.8 million Divo amid castle grounds in France, is getting a wake up call from its charmed existence to move in line with the rest of the Volkswagen AG empire.

The supercar maker, which presented the most expensive car ever at the Geneva car show this week, is working to streamline investments and improve profitability, brand President Stephan Winkelmann said Wednesday in an interview. Parent Volkswagen is in the midst of an overhaul to become more agile and reduce costs as the car industry moves through unprecedented change.

“My main goal is being a profitable company through a full exploitation and development of our brand,” Winkelmann said. “We are working to make our investments more efficient.”

VW Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess, in the driver’s seat since April, has pledged to slash VW’s notoriously excessive engineering costs and allocate significantly more funds to software and electronics. He’s also on course to create a new “super-luxury” car group comprising Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti to better share development. In the past, former Chairman Ferdinand Piech signed off on some of Bugatti’s outrageous development costs.

There was little sign of the new mantra at Geneva this week, where Bugatti presented the 11-million euro ($12.5 million) La Voiture Noire. A one-off, its owner is speculated to be Piech himself. Still, Winkelmann was clear profits will form part of the brand’s identity in future to woo the world’s most elite buyers.

“I can’t make people dream without a strong company with good financial figures,” he said.

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