Meet Europe’s 10 Biggest Automotive Money Losers

Everyone knows that the Bugatti Veyron is one of the most expensive cars to build and that VW loses a lot of money on each unit made. But while the Bugatti is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of losses per vehicle in Europe (€4,617,500 / $6,231,316), it is not the vehicle that inflicted the biggest loss on its company.

According to a research by brokerage firm Sanford C. Bernstein that was published by The Economist, the “honor” goes to the first generation Smart ForTwo, built between 1997 and 2006. The 749,000 units produced generated a loss of €3.35 billion ($4.52 billion) for parent company Daimler.

The main reason was that the automaker injected a huge amount of cash in the project, building a new dedicated plant, an all-new platform and 3-cylinder engines. As if that wasn’t enough, the Smart also failed to meet its sales targets by 40 percent. The maths show that Daimler lost €4,470 ($6,032) on each ForTwo it made.

Other vehicles, like the Fiat Stilo (2001-2009), simply failed to convince their target group of customers. The 769,000 units made were 70 percent less than Fiat’s estimates, bringing the company a huge loss of €2.10 billion ($2.83 billion), €2,730 ($3,685) per vehicle.

The top 3 is completed by the VW Phaeton, which is a rather different case as it was built simply to satisfy the personal whim of VW chairman Ferdinand Piech. Between 2001 and 2012, VW made 72,000 Phaetons and lost €28,100 ($37,910) on each of them. Total loss was €1.99 billion ($2.68 billion).

The top 10 of Europe’s biggest loss-making cars is completed by the Peugeot 1007 (€1.90 billion), first-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class (€1.71 billion), Bugatti Veyron (€1.70 billion), Jaguar X-Type (€1.70 billion), third-generation Renault Laguna (€1.54 billion), Audi A2 (€1.33 billion) and Renault Vel Satis (€1.20 billion).

By Dan Mihalascu

Story References: The Economist

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