New market analysis from Bernstein Research has uncovered some of the biggest money-pits in automotive history.

These penny-wasting projects cost their makers millions thanks in part to the steep costs involved in establishing new platforms, creating new factories or, in the Bugatti Veyron’s case, simply being too much of an engineering masterpiece.

Topping the list is the humble Smart ForTwo, a city run-around project that cost Mercedes-Benz around £2.8 billion in its formative years from 1997-2006. The loss per car was estimated to be in the region of £3,700.

According to Bernstein Research the massive investment didn’t really pay off as the Smart ForTwo’s sales figures were about 40 per cent below sales targets during its early years.

Not surprisingly the Bugatti Veyron appears on the list as it was common knowledge that each car was sold at a loss but the overall figure may still shock some.

According to research, every Veyron cost Bugatti’s parent company Volkswagen nearly £3.8 million thanks to the man-hours and equipment needed to produce the fastest road car in the world.

However, Bernstein Research has warned that its figures are to be taken with a pinch of salt, stating that their estimates are “are obviously very, very approximate."

Both Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz are likely to refute the findings but Bernstein Research points out that the Veyron totted up over £1 billion worth of research and development costs alone and has only sold around 40 units anually at around £1 million apiece since 2009.

Below is a table of the biggest automotive losers according to Bernstein Research:

Smart ForTwo – €3.35bn
Fiat Stilo – €2.10bn
Volkswagen Phaeton – €1.99bn
Peugeot 1007 – €1.90bn
Mercedes A-Class – €1.71bn
Bugatti Veyron – €1.70bn
Jaguar X-Type – €1.70bn
Renault Laguna – €1.54bn

Leon Poultney


October 4, 2013