what are the chances of success?

what are the chances of success?

Zapping Autonews 5 electric city cars to choose from in 2022

about the author

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

Author of several books published by Editions d’Organisation and academic articles, his research work is mainly focused on the automotive sector, for which he also works as a consultant.

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

An ambitious but solid project

In 2019, the entrepreneur Laurent Tapie (Bernard’s son), concluded an agreement with the association “Les Amis de Delage”, owner since 1985 of the unknown brand. The idea is to create the ultimate sports model, a Formula 1 road car, designed in France and offered in the supercar segment (cars costing more than 1 Million Euros and high performance).

The D12 model, with 12 cylinders, is actually a hybrid: a thermal engine of 990 Cv with an electric of 110, that is to say 1100 Horses. The name is a continuation of the Delage models of the 1930s (D.6 and D.8 ) also corresponds to the number of cylinders. D12 has two seats in tandem (like the Renault Twizy, but the comparison ends there), with a displacement of 7.6 liters, capable of reaching 360 Km / h. Two versions will be available: road and more radical for a cycle from 2 Million Euros, excluding tax. The V12 engine will be original, French-made, and the entire car will also be built in France. 30 copies are planned, for release from 2023. Patrick Delâge, 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 bring together a group of mainly French shareholders to help project and hire engineers and pilots to ensure its development. One of the goals is to beat the lap record of the Nürburgring (Northern loop) in the legal sports category (registered and authorized to drive on public roads – a record currently held by the Porsche GT2 RS in 6.43 minutes). The project exists and was presented, in practice, at the last Festival of Speed ​​in Goodwood (UK) this summer. There would already be orders, especially in America.

The interest of Americans is not accidental, because the lovers of this type of car are many in the USA, and the Delage brand is known to aesthetes. In addition to the fact that it includes the great watches of French work in the 1930s, that examples appear in the largest collections of North America, and that it has distinguished itself in the greatest competitions of elegance such as Pebble Beach or Amalia Island, it also won one. of the first editions of the Indianapolis 500 Miles in 1914. The brand, founded in 1905 by Louis Delâge, produced both race cars (for the 1500 Grand Prix), and mainly sports cars and luxury sedans with bodywork and the great masters of the 1930s and. 1940s. In 1935, it was merged with Delahaye, its direct competitor offering similar models. After the Second World War, these two brands continued to coexist but could not be recovered or renewed, in the context of the oil shortage and the political plan (the Pons plan) that had no place. The cars were no longer sold, and both brands went out of business in 1953, a year before Bugatti faced similar problems. The brand will only be available through collectors’ clubs, in particular Les Amis de Delage, who agree to join the project in 2019.

So the new Delage is an alternative to current and future cars in this niche, but seemingly lucrative segment.

Hypercars: part by side

Reducing D12

Model pictureCredit Image – Koenigsegg

It was in the 1980s and 1990s that this genre emerged, producing high-quality sports cars from the competition, produced in limited numbers and sold at sky-high prices: at least 1 Million Euros. Major manufacturers, such as Mercedes, then coexist and specialists such as Jaguar, Porsche or Ferrari, and craftsmen such as Pagani and Koenigsegg, Rimac, or Hennessey (but the latter are more producers that change existing models than a completely different manufacturer) . A few manufacturers, passionate and rich, are trying to revive the iconic brands that have disappeared, the front of which, Bugatti, was relaunched by the Italian Romano Artioli in 1987 (with the EB110) which manages to maintain itself for more than ten years. , before giving up in 1998, a brand for the Volkswagen group, which made it the most powerful and fastest car in the world (the only one to reach 400 km / h) and the Veyron sold for 1.6 million Euros at that time. The Chiron that succeeded it is worth 2.3 Million and the Divo and Mistral, 5 Million (excluding options…). The advent of the hybrid engine widens the scope of proposals by bringing in newer or less successful projects. In France, apart from Delage, a few producers are trying: Vision 1789 and Akylone to be the highest, but they are still looking for financing. Elsewhere, attempts to get rid of dead brands arise from time to time, such as Hispano-Suiza launching Carmen in 2019, followed by Cars – How many were sold?

The segment should be good because it targets customers for whom price is not an obstacle, and who want to indulge in a unique product. Because each model is built by hand according to the wishes of the customer, and ultimately turns out to be unique. In addition to the image produced, peripherals probably have a big advantage, which explains why large groups are also attracted to them. In 2017, Mercedes presented its “project one” with its Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton; while Aston Martin develops its Valkyrie. And the movement should grow with the creation of the Hypercars category in the world championship of endurance from 2023. Many manufacturers are committed to it: Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Alpine, Peugeot, Cadillac, Audi, BMW … The main goal is to increase the presence of manufacturers in sports prototypes (Le Mans being the flagship event), which seems to have already been achieved; but it seems logical and obvious that the developers who engage in it also use their results commercially with additional road versions.

What are the opportunities for freelancers?

Reducing D12

A few can exist and persist in this place that is increasingly populated by large groups. Apart from Pagani and Koenigsegg, many attempts have ended in failure or remain in an embryonic state. The two “foreigners” succeeded thanks to the excellent quality of their products, and of course, also, to their refusal. Bugatti did not confirm its revival until the entry of the VW group, which ensured the financing of projects and the rigor of management. Enthusiasm is important to make in a high-performance car, but it is not enough, especially in the face of experienced and patient manufacturers. Capitalizing on a brand is profitable, but it does not guarantee long-term success. The product must be of very high quality from the beginning and the funding must be on top of the development needs. All this is very expensive before paying, and therefore it is difficult for an independent entrepreneur, even supported by financial partners, to take an ambitious project and make it sustainable.

Laurent Tapie’s approach is bold, and his talent as a businessman is undoubtedly genuine. The Delage brand is understandable, although perhaps less powerful than the Bugatti. For 3 years, the project has been progressing through the necessary steps. The D12 is up, running and now available for sale. The goal of selling 30 seems reasonable; knowing that it probably corresponds to the break point. First-time buyers will be picky. If the car is well designed and efficient, if its customers are satisfied with it, and as long as they are not well known, their influence will likely influence other buyers. If a project falters but looks good once it’s picked up by a major manufacturer (as was the case with Bugatti), it can go back under the best of circumstances – we’re usually thinking of Stellantis.

So we can imagine, and hope, that a bet can be made if the sponsors follow, otherwise it will undoubtedly be a great human event, but without a future …

In short

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

Bruno Camus