Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. is an automobile manufacturer located in Molsheim, Alsace, France. It is owned by the German automobile manufacturing group Volkswagen Group as a subsidiary of Volkswagen France. It was founded in 2000 as a successor to the Bugatti Automobili S.p.A.
At the urging of then-chairman Ferdinand Piëch, Volkswagen purchased the rights to produce cars under the Bugatti marque in 1998. This followed the purchase of Lamborghini (by VW's Audi subsidiary), the Rolls-Royce factory in Crewe, England, United Kingdom, and the Bentley marque.
On 22 December 2000, Volkswagen officially incorporated Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S., with former VW drivetrain chief Karl-Heinz Neumann as president. The company purchased the 1856 Château Saint Jean, formerly Ettore Bugatti's guest house in Dorlisheim, near Molsheim, and began refurbishing it to serve as the company's headquarters. The original factory was still in the hands of Snecma, who were unwilling to part with it. At the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in August 2000, VW announced that they would instead build a new modern atelier (factory) next to and south of the Château. The atelier was officially inaugurated on 3 September 2005.
Volkswagen commissioned ItalDesign's Giorgetto Giugiaro to design a series of concept cars to return the marque to prominence. The first example, the EB 118, was a two-door coupé and was introduced at the hello Motor Show in 1998. It was followed by the four-door EB 218 touring sedan, introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 1999. Later that year, the 18/3 Chiron was shown at the IAA in Frankfurt. The final Bugatti concept was not designed by ItalDesign: the VW-designed EB 18/4 GT was introduced at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show.
All of these early concepts featured a 555 PS (408 kW; 547 hp) 18-cylinder engine. This was the first-ever W-configuration engine on a passenger vehicle, with three banks of six cylinders. It shared many components with Volkswagen's modular engine family.
Development of this vehicle began with the 1999 EB 18/4 "Veyron" concept car, which itself had a chassis based on that of the Bugatti 18/3 Chiron concept car. It was similar in design and appearance to the final Veyron production car. One major difference was the EB 18/4's use of a W18 engine with three banks of six cylinders. The Veyron's chief designer was Hartmut Warkuss, and the exterior was designed by Jozef Kabaň of Volkswagen, rather than Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign, who had handled the three prior Bugatti concepts.
The then – Volkswagen Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch announced the Veyron at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show. It was promised to be the fastest, most powerful and most expensive car in history. Instead of the W18, it would use a VR6/WR8-style W16 engine. First seen in the 1999 Bentley Hunaudières concept car, the W16 would have four turbochargers and produce a quoted (metric) 1001 horsepower (see engine section for details on the power output). Top speed was promised at 407 km/h (253 mph), and the price was announced at €1 million.
Development continued throughout 2001 and the EB 16/4 Veyron was promoted to "advanced concept" status. In late 2001, Bugatti announced that the car, officially called the "Bugatti Veyron 16.4", would go into production in 2003. Taking great pride in the making of the Veyron, the production plant (where cars are also ordered) is affectionately called the "Atelier" which means an artists workroom.
Piëch retired that year as chairman of the Volkswagen Group and was replaced by Bernd Pischetsrieder. The new chairman promptly sent the Veyron back to the drawing board for major revisions. Neumann was replaced as Bugatti president by Thomas Bscher in December 2003, and substantial modifications were made to the Veyron under the guidance of a former VW engineer, Bugatti Engineering chief Wolfgang Schreiber.
The Veyron costs €1,100,000 (net price without taxes); prices vary by exchange rates and local taxes (like value added taxes). Prices for the UK or the US are over £880,000, or around $1,400,000. It was noted in an April issue of "Live" magazine (weekly mens magazine with the Sunday Times) that customers are free to order additional extras which can push the price up by the cost of a Rolls Royce Phantom. During an episode of Top Gear, the car was compared to the Concorde as a feat of technology..
The 16C Galibier was first unveiled during the Celebration of the Centenary of the Marque in Molsheim. The presentation was only for Bugatti customers. The car show in Molsheim showed the car in blue carbon fibre and aluminum parts. One year later Bugatti showed the world the 16C Galibier Concept at "VW Group Night" at the Geneva Auto Show in a new black and aluminum color combination. The Galibier, a 1000 HP sedan, was first shown as a concept in 2010 and when put into production, will cost about $1.4 million. It will use a 16-cylinder engine that can run on both biofuel and gasoline. Production will require facilities in Molsheim, France, to be refitted, which may push back deliveries until 2013 or 2014.