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New car, very old hopes and values

16 August 2011 No Comment

Whether you read it as death throes or a final flourish, the Bugatti Veyron makes an appearance in the press this week in the only way it knows how – in superlatives.

And this is a car of the superlative, whether it be superlative performance figures, journalistic adjectives or – as is the case with the current crop of articles – a truly superlative price tag.

The limited edition Bugatti ‘Sang Noir’ has a price tag of £2.1 million, a figure that is somehow very worrying. Why is this? Of course, the Bugatti is a dream, the sort of car you invest in as you invest time in thinking about your future with Katie Perry i.e. at night.

But this doesn’t stop the car getting an extraordinary amount of press. It might be worth considering why. What is the function of this car at a time when all the other headlines seem to stress the fragility of markets and consumer spending?

It seems like the Veyron drags certain of the aspirations of the motor industry along in its wake. As others makes Teslas and Leafs a full-blooded petrol burner somehow comes as something of a relief. With its superlative performance figures and money-no-object engineering values, the Veyron goes back to the days when competition was based on pure performance figures.

This is what Bugatti are paid to do of course, up at the top end of the broader VW stable. Other departments like Volkswagen meanwhile continue to eek out the fuel economy and tax breaks. In the VW company handbook there is no contradiction here.

It is perhaps telling that the new Bugatti project, the Galibier Limousine, will have a hybrid option as European consumers encounter ever-stricter emissions restrictions on new cars. It is also telling that they will continue to make the thirsty version of the vehicle for sale in Dubai and other emerging markets.

The Bugatti Veyron continues to represent something very serious to industry and consumer alike: unfettered ambition and dreams, something very important in the uncertain future of motoring.