An electronic press release from VW and their Bugatti Divison (yes, that big one does own the other) reveals that the topic of AIRBAGS, of all things, might cripple Bugatti Veyron EB16 sales in the USA. Though some 40 cars have reportedly been paid for already, reports say new U.S. airbag rules going into effect in September could be a disaster in the making for supercar maker Bugatti. Apparently complying with the new rules will require a redesign of the Veyron, increasing the price of the car more than $125,000. Hmmmm ... Bugatti is aksing some $1.6 million for the car so far ... Heck, you can built it into the payments, right?
In a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency, Bugatti president Thomas Bscher said the requirement for "smart" airbags "could well put Bugatti out of business, "citing the domino effects of costly redesign of the current car, cuts in production and delay in the introduction of its next model". (Photo: Bugatti Veyron EB16 at 2005 Tokyo Motor Show, by Steve Parker).
A number of low volume automakers have applied for an exemption to the rule, including Lamborghini, Maserati, Ferrari, Spyker, Lotus and Morgan. Lambo is also owned by VW.
If the NHTSA grants Bugatti's requested two-year exemption, it will only affect the 150 cars it hopes to build for the U.S. market before introducing its next version, which presumably will include smart air bags (for dumb buyers --- now THOSE would be real 'smart' airbags!). Lamborghini is similarly affected only for its current models - the next-gen Murcielago, due out in 2009, will comply with the new rules.