The Veyron’s $2.5 million Replacement Will Be “Remarkably Better”

How can Bugatti top the fastest production car ever known?

The Bugatti Veyron is not so much a car as a four-wheeled instrument of arrant domination. It makes more power, costs more money and is more exclusive than anything that deigns to call itself a competitor. Upon its release, it set the record as the fastest car in the world. More than 10 years into its production cycle, at the end of its run of 450 vehicles—the final 25 of which were built with an average retail price of $2.3 million—it remains unbeaten.

How to top a seemingly unbeatable best? “Before we talk about the future, we need to look a little bit back,” Wolfgang Dürheimer, the CEO of Bugatti, says during the Pebble Beach Concours d’Élégance, the annual collector-car bacchanal in California. “The initial Veyron spec sheet had four major topics: more than 1,000 horsepower, top speed above 400 kilometers per hour (approximately 250 mph), acceleration zero to 100 (kph) below three seconds, and you need to be able to go to the opera house in the evening in the same car you drove 400 in the morning.”

In comparison, the requirement list for the new car—which is undergoing cloaked development before its expected introduction in 2016—was shorter and simpler. “It contained one major sentence,” Dürheimer says. “And this was, do everything better in all dimensions. Remarkably better.”

It’s a tough brief, albeit one that the CEO, for one, is enjoying. “I am so lucky that I could have several test-drives so far,” Dürheimer says. “And I can testify, for the new car, it’s hard to believe… it is remarkably better. And everybody on a 30-minute test drive will figure out, yes, they did it again, and they did far better than the first time.”

Dürheimer suspects that “prices will go up” for the forthcoming hypercar—the name of which also remains under tight wraps—as will production numbers. This escalation seems both justified and unfathomable. It also begs the question of how many people on Earth, beyond the 450 that have already purchased a Veyron, have sufficient interest in and means to acquire the replacement. Dürheimer offers a lesson in Buggati-nomics.

“Our customers, they all have enough cars. An average of 64 cars. So they know how to drive from A to B. They don’t need another car. What they need is an option, something that fascinates them. Where they say, ‘I want to have this.’”

Fanning desire requires some very on-target brand positioning. For Bugatti, that has meant emphasizing over and over its top-banana status in the food chain. “We want to remain there, and not go lower,” Dürheimer says. “So there will not be a Bugatti for everybody, there will not be a version below a million dollars. Bugatti remains sharp, exclusive and limited.”

The final versions of the Veyron hit top speeds of nearly 268 mph. Aiming higher would seem to test the natural limits of terrestrial physics. Indeed, the clearest look at the Veyron's successor is found in the virtual realm of the Gran Turismo video-game franchise. Dürheimer, however, sees no earthbound conflict. “You reach a limit and you think, well, this is it, more is not possible. But once you live with the achievement, you again experience in niches where you can do better tomorrow.

“It’s a big responsibility to sign off on a car that can go far above 400 kilometers per hour, whereas an Airbus is taking off at 240. And this car stays on the ground.”