what are the chances of success?

Zapping Autonews The concepts of the car of the year 2022 in the video

About the Author

Bruno Camus is a Doctor of Management, Professor of Marketing at Kedge Business School.

The author of several books published by Editions d’Organization and academic articles, his research work is very focused on the automotive sector, where he also works as a consultant.

For Autonews, he analyzes and decodes the strategies of manufacturers and sheds light on the complexity of their market and their environment.

An ambitious but solid project

In 2019, businessman Laurent Tapie (Bernard’s son), concluded an agreement with the association “Les Amis de Delage”, owner since 1985 of the eponymous brand. The idea is to create a super sporty model, a Formula 1 road car, designed in France and offered in the hypercar segment (cars worth more than 1 Million Euros with extreme performance).

The D12 model, for 12 cylinders, is actually a hybrid: thermal engine of 990 Cv combined with an electric one of 110, that is 1100 Horses. The name is a continuation of the Delage models of the 1930s (D.6 and D.8) which also corresponds to the number of cylinders. The D12 is a two-seater in tandem (like the Renault Twizy, but the comparison stops there), with a displacement of 7.6 Liters, which can reach 360 Km / h. Two versions are available: a road and a more radical one for the circuit from 2 Million Euros, excluding taxes. The V12 engine will be original, French-made, with the entire car also built in France. 30 copies are planned, for delivery from 2023. Patrick Delâge, great-grandson of the founder of the brand, Louis Delâge (with a circumflex accent), is the Honorary President of the brand run by Laurent Tapie, which would have merged of the group of mainly French shareholders to support the project and recruited engineers and pilots to ensure its progress. One of the goals is to beat the lap record on the Nürburgring circuit (North loop) in the legal sports category (registered and authorized to drive on public roads – record currently held by the Porsche GT2 RS in 6.43 Minutes). The project exists and was presented, in action, at the last Festival of Speed ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ There are orders, especially the American one.

The interest of the Americans is not random, because the enthusiasts of this type of car are quite a lot in the USA, and the Delage brand is known to aesthetes. In addition to the fact that it contains the great hours of French bodywork of the 1930s, that examples can be found in major collections in North America, and that it distinguishes itself in the greatest elegance competitions such as Pebble Beach or Amalia Island , it also won one. in the first editions of the Indianapolis 500 Miles in 1914. The brand, founded in 1905 by Louis Delâge, produces both racing cars (the 1500 Grand Prix), and especially sports cars and luxury sedans with bodywork of greatest masters of the 1930s and 1940s. In 1935, it merged with Delahaye, its direct competitor offering similar models. After the Second World War, the two brands continued their partnership but failed to recover or modernize, in the context of fuel shortages and a political plan (the Pons plan) in which they had no place. . The cars were no longer sold, and both brands went out of business in 1953, a year before Bugatti faced the same problems. The brand will only last through collectors’ clubs, especially Les Amis de Delage, who agreed to join the project in 2019.

So the new Delage is an alternative to current and future hypercars in this exclusive, but apparently lucrative segment.

Hypercars: a segment apart

Delage D12

Illustration photoCredit Image – Koenigsegg

In the 1980s and 1990s this category emerged, extrapolating hyper-sports cars from the competition, produced in limited quantities and sold at astronomical prices: at least 1 Million Euros. Large manufacturers, such as Mercedes, then join specialists such as Jaguar, Porsche or Ferrari, and craftsmen such as Pagani and Koenigsegg, Rimac, or Hennessey (but the latter is more than a preparer modifies existing models rather than a separate manufacturer throughout) . Some manufacturers, both enthusiastic and rich, are trying to revive the emblematic brands that have disappeared, in front of them, the Bugatti, which was relaunched by the Italian Romano Artioli in 1987 (with the EB110) which managed to maintain itself for more than ten years, before ceasing in 1998, the brand to the Volkswagen group, making it the most powerful and fastest car in the world (the only one then to achieve ot of 400 km/h) with the Veyron sold for 1.6 million Euros at the time. The Chiron that succeeded it costs 2.3 Million and the Divo and the Mistral, 5 Million (excluding options…). The arrival of the hybrid machine widens the spectrum of proposals by bringing new or less successful projects. In France, apart from Delage, some manufacturers have tried it: Vision 1789 and Akylone are the most advanced, but still looking for funding. Elsewhere, attempts to excavate defunct brands appear from time to time, such as Hispano-Suiza launching Carmen in 2019, followed by Maguari – How many are actually sold?

The segment should be encouraged because it is aimed at customers for whom price is not an obstacle, and who want to treat themselves to an exclusive product. Because each model is made by hand according to the customer’s wishes, and ultimately becomes unique. Apart from the created image, the margins are likely to be very profitable, which explains why the big groups are also interested in them. In 2017, Mercedes presented its “project one” with Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton; while Aston Martin is promoting its Valkyrie. And the movement should grow with the creation of a Hypercars category in the world endurance championship from 2023. Many manufacturers have committed to it: Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Alpine, Peugeot, Cadillac, Audi, BMW … The -first goal is to increase the presence of manufacturers of sports prototypes (Le Mans is the flagship event), which seems to have been achieved; but it seems reasonable and clear that the manufacturers involved in this also exploit their commercial results and extrapolate the street versions.

What are the opportunities for a freelancer?

Delage D12

Few manage to exist and exist in this part which is mostly occupied by many groups. Except for Pagani and Koenigsegg, most of the attempts ended in failure or remained in an embryonic state. The two “outsiders” succeeded because of the excellent quality of their product, and no doubt also, because of their absence. Bugatti did not confirm its revival until entering the VW group, which ensured the financing of the projects and the rigor of management. Enthusiasm should be done in the ultra-performance car, but it is not enough, especially in the face of experienced and patient industrialists. Leveraging a brand is an advantage, but does not guarantee long-term success. The product must be of very high quality from the beginning and the financing must be up to the development requirements. All of this is very expensive before it is paid off, and therefore it is difficult for an independent entrepreneur, even supported by financial partners, to take on an ambitious project and make it sustainable.

Laurent Tapie’s approach is bold, and his talent as an entrepreneur is undoubtedly true. The Delage brand makes sense, although it is perhaps less strong than Bugatti. Over the course of 3 years, the project progressed through the necessary stages. The D12 is available, it drives and is ready for sale. The goal of selling 30 seems reasonable; knowing that this probably corresponds to a break-even point. First time buyers can be judgmental. If the car is well designed and efficient, if its customers are satisfied with it, and if they are little known, their influence is likely to convince other buyers. If the project is weak but seems to survive if it is taken over by a major manufacturer (as in the case of Bugatti), it can be revived under better circumstances – naturally we think of Stellantis.

So we can imagine, and hope, that the bet can be carried out if the financiers follow, otherwise it will certainly be an extraordinary human adventure, but there is no future …

In short

Our contributor Bruno Camus, especially Doctor of Management, Professor of Marketing at Kedge Business School, immerses us in the history of Delage and its acquisition in 2019 by Laurent Tapie. He examines the chances and the keys to the success of the return of this legendary French car manufacturer for its Delage D12 hypercar.

Bruno Camus

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