- “Silent Launch” tour of the French luxury brand’s most important markets
- Private individual presentations at secret locations
- Customers experience Bugatti’s new super sports car in the context of a well-rounded brand presentation
- Exclusiveness and highly individual contacts are the key factors
- Customers are thrilled with the Chiron1
It is a sunny November morning in London. Hendrik Malinowski, Head of the Bugatti Sales Team, is expecting his first guest today. Here, at the Bugatti Lifestyle Boutique on Brompton Road, only a stone’s throw away from Harrods, the luxury department store, he will be welcoming a Bugatti owner who has registered for an extremely exclusive event in the British capital. London is one of five cities on the itinerary of the “Silent Launch” tour, which started in the summer and which Bugatti is using to give selected customers a first glimpse of the brand’s new super sports model, the Bugatti Chiron. The tour started at the company’s headquarters in Molsheim, France, before continuing to the West coast of America and then on to the United Arab Emirates and London, reaching its conclusion in the Far East. The tour has a certain resemblance to a secret mission. Security is the top priority. There are no written invitations. Customers receive an oral invitation from their Bugatti customer adviser or dealer. The precise location of the car is always a closely guarded secret. The meeting point is always a public location such as a hotel or a Bugatti Lifestyle Boutique, as is the case here in London.
It is 10 o’clock when the guest enters the building. He is an entrepreneur who lives near London who has asked for his name to be kept confidential. Discretion is part of Bugatti’s policy in its dealings with customers. Hendrik Malinowski welcomes him; the two have already met. The customer owns two Bugattis, a Veyron 16.4 (1,001 HP) and a Veyron 16.4 Super Sport, the 1,200 HP world-record edition. It was only thanks to this fact that he received an invitation. Almost all the privileged guests invited to a preview of the Chiron before it is presented to the public are already Bugatti owners. The more Veyrons owners have in their garage, the more likely are they to be invited to a private presentation.
“The Bugatti family is an exclusive club of millionaires and billionaires who are linked by their enthusiasm for our brand,” says Hendrik Malinowski. “We reward their loyalty by giving them an opportunity to place their order for a Chiron early, before all the other potential customers, so that they can secure one of the earliest production slots.”
With a hand-crafted super sports car of this calibre, a certain wait is unavoidable. It helps if the advance payment is made as soon as possible, placing the order firmly on Bugatti’s books. “One thing that our customers are always short of is time,” Malinowski explains . “Some customers already ordered their Chiron without ever having seen it, before the first preview date. And some of the guests invited to our tour quickly bought a pre-owned Veyron to win a place on our guest list as existing customers.”
The customer in London today takes his visit to the boutique as an opportunity to have a look at the latest additions to the current Ettore Bugatti Lifestyle Collection and to collect the shoes which he had ordered. These Bugatti blue shoes were hand-crafted for him from the finest leather.
The presentation continues. If a customer comes alone, Hendrik Malinowski drives him to the preview location in a Veyron. A Bentley limousine is available for customers accompanied by families or friends. It takes about 20 minutes to travel from London to the destination in a gigantic but inconspicuous warehouse in an industrial estate near Wembley. A large roller door is lifted. A member of the security team subjects the car to close scrutiny before waving it through. Inside the hall, at the top end of a ramp, the flying doctor of the Bugatti customer service team, Stefan Schmitt, is waiting. He is responsible for the customer’s two Veyrons. There is a cordial welcome in a family atmosphere. “Our customers really appreciate the fact that everyone receives an individual appointment and can take their time over the preview,” says Schmitt. “Our “Silent Launch” program is tailored closely to potential customers’ wishes, just like our after-sales service is tailored to meet the needs of our customers and their vehicles.”
“If a customer cannot come to a preview during the daytime as result of business commitments or travel plans, we arrange an appointment during the night,” Hendrik Malinowski reports. “Customer satisfaction is our top priority.” His team, consisting of the flying doctor and regional manager who are responsible, a factory driver, security guards and back office employees, are on duty practically round-the-clock to provide an unforgettable experience for the privileged guests. Several dozen customers from throughout the world have come to London to take up this unique opportunity.
After the roller gate has been shut again, a steel door is opened. Inside, it is dark and the atmosphere is muted. This is a stark contrast to the loud and vibrant city outside the door. The senses relax and are heightened for what is to come. A corridor leads to an elegant lounge with warm tones and subdued lighting, where visitors experience the world of the Bugatti brand. The famed Bugatti “Macaron” is on show in a display case as a key fob made of solid silver with precious stones. The shelves on the wall feature masterpieces from the Ettore Bugatti Collection, made from the most valuable materials available. Photos and sketches on the walls highlight the 100-year history of Bugatti as well as past and present models.
Hendrik Malinowski guides the guest through the brand values of Bugatti, “Art, Forme, Technique”, using the DNA book that is also on display. Taking a precious model of the legendary Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic on the neighbouring table, he explains the prominent design features of Bugatti which were created during the lifetime of the founder Ettore Bugatti and are still essential elements of the style and lines of a present-day Bugatti: the central fin on the roof, the distinctive Bugatti line on the sides and the horseshoe radiator grill that has become the characteristic feature of a Bugatti.
After the visitor has been attuned to the brand and its DNA, he is taken to another room. It becomes darker. Blue light points to a long corridor ending in a dark room. The suspense grows. However, before the secret is revealed, the guest must hand his mobile phone, cameras and any other recording devices over to the security guard as well as signing a confidentiality agreement. Nothing that he is seen here may be revealed to the public. The suspense is to be maintained until the world debut of the new model in Geneva. The guest agrees to the security requirements and the security guard gives the go-ahead. Hendrik Malinowski and Stefan Schmitt accompany the guest through the dark corridor to a large dark hall with a central beam of light attracting the visitor’s attention. The beam highlights a large platform displaying a shell-shaped white cocoon. Organic lines and shapes are projected onto this object. Low music heightens the sense of anticipation in the room. The guest has reached his destination and the great moment will come in only a few seconds.
The guest is guided directly to the corner of the square platform, with a desk about six metres away. Here, the guest becomes a player. He presses a blue button and the lights go out. Blue light flows out of the button and across the floor to the platform. As it reaches the platform, the performance starts; this is a show consisting of light, sound and projection filling the entire space. In the course of the presentation, the cocoon opens slowly to both sides, mist rises and is then blown away at the peak of the crescendo – revealing the Bugatti Chiron.
“We want our customer’s first meeting with the Chiron to be a highly emotional experience,” Hendrik Malinowski reports. “This static presentation is already intended to give customers a sense of the immense power and breathtaking speed of this super sports car.”
The British entrepreneur is impressed. “As I have already driven the Veyron for several years, I had certain expectations concerning its successor,” he says. “In terms of appearance, the Chiron has already exceeded those expectations.” Respectfully, he approaches the supercar which is now displayed on the turntable from all sides in perfect lighting conditions. The customer then meets Pierre-Henri Raphanel, Bugatti’s Pilot Officiel and world record-holder, who reached more than 431 km/h in the Veyron 16.4 Super Sport in 2010. The customer already completed a driver training session with Raphanel after purchasing the special edition of the Super Sport following the world record run. The Bugatti works driver has driven several prototypes of the Chiron and tells the customer about his impressions of its performance and handling. Raphanel explains the lines and shapes of the vehicle as well as its dynamic functions. Each design detail has been agreed with the developers. In line with the motto of “Form follows Performance”, all the design details make a decisive contribution to achieving and bringing onto the road the performance Bugatti needs to reinforce its leadership claim.
“I love the Veyron, and it will always remain an icon, the super sports car that has taken the automobile world to new dimensions,” says former racing driver Raphanel. “But Bugatti has taken another great step forward with the Chiron. This is clear in every respect. It almost took my breath away. I was simply overwhelmed. The Chiron is unique. it will certainly be the fastest car around, but its handling is also very impressive. Once again, our customers can look forward to something really special.”
The Bugatti customer from London is now completely convinced and leaves the presentation area. The last stop on his visit is the sales lounge. Here, he heads straight to a desk, where he is welcomed by Bugatti’s regional manager for Europe. The manager hands him an exclusive Montegrappa Fountain pen and the great moment has finally come. The customer signs the contract for his Chiron, followed by a glass of champagne to celebrate his decision.
The details concerning the transfer of the advance payment are then clarified and initial information on the preliminary configuration of the vehicle is provided. The final configuration of this latest addition to the customer’s collection will be settled after the world debut of the Chiron in Geneva. However, the customer has already taken the most important step today: he has ordered his Chiron and will soon be pleased to learn that he has won one of the first production slots. He should be able to take delivery of his car at the beginning of 2017.
“I am very happy about my decision and am really looking forward to my new Bugatti,” the customer says. The Chiron will be the pinnacle of my car collection. It shows that I already had the right idea when I bought my first Veyron. My main problem now will be to stay patient until the car is delivered.
Bugatti has a small item which may help him in his efforts. As a token of thanks for his visit and his order, Hendrik Malinowski presents the customer with a hand-drawn sketch of the Chiron in a black carbon fibre frame. He also tells him that Bugatti will call within the next few months to arrange a first test drive.
“I simply can’t wait to drive the Chiron.“ After saying these words, a happy customer leaves the industrial hall near Wembley to continue his day, which is dictated by a tight time schedule. All in all, his visit to Bugatti has taken about two hours. In the customer’s opinion, this was time well invested. His next commitment is already waiting and he travels direct to Heathrow to take a flight to Dubai.
In the meantime, Hendrik Malinowski returns to Brompton Road, where he is expecting his next guest, a billionaire from the Emirates who already ordered a Chiron some time ago after seeing the design sketch. Now he would like to take a look at the car itself.
Dr Stefan Brungs, Member of the Board of Management of Bugatti responsible for Sales, Marketing and Brand Lifestyle, draws a positive resume of the tour: “Every presentation is tailor-made because each of our customers is different; they all have their own special demands and expectations,” he says. “Our customers can afford anything and they are guests of honour at the world’s most exclusive events. They have seen almost everything and have a wealth of experience. Their enthusiastic reactions show that we really hit the mark with our exclusive presentation concept. I think that focusing on the Chiron and the customer is the key to success.”
“After the end of the Chiron’s “Silent Launch“ tour in February, I am looking forward to the moment when we can present this model to the public in Geneva,” says Brungs.
The Bugatti Chiron is to make its world premiere at the 86th Geneva International Motor Show (March 1-13, 2016).
1 Fuel consumption, l/100km: urban 35.2 /extra urban 15.2 /combined 22.5; CO2 emissions, combined, g/km: 516; efficiency class: G