In response to a previous piece, many of our readers pointed to Bugatti being a French luxury car company, top brand strategist Susanna Nicoletti explains further.

It appears there is a general conception that Bugatti is a French luxury car brand. But it's not. In fact, Bugatti is a global brand.

Bugatti was founded in 1909 by an Italian entrepreneur Ettore Bugatti n the village of Molsheim, Alsace. At that time Alsace was a German region, it became French in 1919 and was occupied by Germany during World War II and later returned to France in 1944.

The Man Behind Bugatti 

Ettore Bugatti was born in Milan, Italy in 1881 to a family of artists. He was just 17 years old when he created in Milan the Type 1, the first Bugatti car. He was not even 18 yet when German Baron De Dietrich invited him to Alsace to work in his car factory. Bugatti assembled his Type 10 car in his garage in Cologne, Germany. The car was called "Puro Sangue." He then moved to Molsheim in 1909 and founded his namesake luxury cars company.

Ettore Bugatti is the only car creator who managed to merge tradition, innovation and creativity in just one car model. In the '20s his car Type 35 set all records (still unbeaten), winning more than 2,000 races, including the Gran Prix de Monaco. His company was confiscated by the Germans during World War II, and by the French afterward. In 1946, Ettore Bugatti was forced to get a French passport with the hopes of being able to get back control of the car company he created. He won the lawsuit against the French government only in 1947, when he was seriously ill and didn't get the chance to know he got back the control of the company he founded with so much passion and love. The company soon ceased all the activities and, in 1963, the Spanish group Hispano-Suiza bought the rights of usage of the brand.

Rebranding Bugatti

In 1987, the Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli took over and moved the headquarters of the company to Italy and, in 1995, they launched the very first car made in carbon fiber, the EB110. After a few years the company went bankrupt. Finally in 1998, the German group Volkswagen bought the remains of the legendary company and recreated it from scratch, based in Molsheim, Alsace. In 2005, the stunning Bugatti Veyron was launched on the market with a bang. In 2007, the Veyron Pur Sang version is presented in only 5 cars at the price of 1.5 million euro. The production of the Veyron was terminated in 2015 when they reached 450 cars production. In 2016, Bugatti introduced the Chiron with a limited production of 500 cars priced at $3 million.

"The Bugatti Chiron is a car that is known for outstanding straight line performance with luxury and comfort," Bugatti CEO Stephan Winkelmann said.

A Bugatti Chiron entirely made in Lego bricks (yes, that's right) was presented to the press recently and perfectly mirrors the original model and functioning as well. A new Bugatti called Divo was launched in 2018. At a price of $6 million and only 45 cars produced, it represents the state-of-the-art of hypercars.

Bugatti CEO German Stephan Wincklemann once said that the typical Bugatti customer is a self-made man, from North America, Europe, the Middle East and Japan, collects cars (in his garage the average car number is 30), and may own private jets and yachts.

In an interview to Business Insider, Winckleman said that "success in the luxury space is driven by brand building as much as it is by the product itself... It's all about doing the right thing with the brand."

And Bugatti is nailing it extremely well. As a global brand.

Photo courtesy: Bugatti/Facebook


About the author

Susanna Nicoletti

Brand Catalyst and Founder of LuxFashion

Susanna Nicoletti is a Marketing, Digital and Communication Senior Executive in the fashion and luxury industry with a track record in top global groups and brands.

A Brand Catalyst helping fashion and luxury brands building authentic leadership thanks to long lasting, strong Brand Equity and successful Business Growth Management.

A Business and Strategy Writer. Explorer of new luxury and fashion marketing frontiers.