Imagine an entire global network of dealerships without a single vehicle in them. This isn't a new, digitally inspired direct-sales innovation but the reality of selling cars costing a shade under $3 million apiece.
When Volkswagen's prestige Bugatti brand started selling the 1,001-hp Veyron supercar in 2005, dealers were allowed to add the brand to an existing showroom alongside other luxury marques.
Now, Bugatti is rolling out the 1,500-hp Chiron, the Veyron's successor, and it is demanding all 32 of its global dealers including 12 in the U.S. build separate showrooms just for the single model. Currently, about half have the separate showrooms.
"Our goal is to have 100 percent stand-alone dealers when the cars are delivered in autumn," Stefan Brungs, head of sales and marketing for the brand, told Automotive News Europe at the opening of a stand-alone showroom in central London, separated out from a Bentley dealership.
Except the dealerships won't have cars in them.
"We do not have demonstrators," Brungs said. "If we had 32 demonstrators, that would be quite a lot [of money]," he said. Instead, each continent has just two test cars that Bugatti will bring to the interested customer.
The dealers might be car-free, but Bugatti is very specific about the ambience of what it still calls "showrooms."
"We expect a showroom designed according to our standards, and a dedicated salesperson that is 100 percent Bugatti and goes through all the training," Brungs said.
In the London showroom, the design includes carbon-fiber and leather armchairs from the upscale Bugatti Home Collection.
Bugatti said it has received 200 orders for the 500 Chirons it plans to build over the next seven to eight years.