Cars are far from cheap. As it stands, it is impossible to acquire a new car fresh out of a showroom without spending at least £5,995. That’ll only get you a Dacia Sandero and knowing that, many would prefer to keep their cash.
Elsewhere, it’s possible to spend £30k on a Ford Focus before you tick a single optional extra.
With such lofty ticket prices, you’d think every car sold represents a major profit for car makers, but that’s not always the case, in fact it can sometimes be quite the opposite.
To mark National Non-Profit Day (August 17th), we’re looking at the biggest loss-making cars in history.
10. Mercedes-Benz A-Class (1997-2004 – £1,214 per unit)
The A-Class may be a sleek high-end hatchback these days, but it didn’t get off to the best of starts back in 2007, when it emerged as a dorky mini-MPV that hit Merc for £1,124 every time they sold one.
Collectively, the original A-Class made a £1.44 billion loss for Mercedes.
9. Fiat Stilo (2001-2009 – £2,297 per unit)
Once upon a time, the Fiat Punto was a hugely popular mega-selling supermini in the UK, so upsizing it into what would become the Stilo to rival the Focus and Golf seemed like a no-brainer.
Sadly, the Italians’ maths didn’t quite add up and ultimately, Fiat lost £1.77 billion over eight years, making the Stilo the second biggest loss-maker in automotive history.
8. Renault Laguna (2006-2012 – £2,986 per unit)
There’s a very good reason why Renault has opted against offering the Talisman – the successor to the Laguna – in the UK; because its predecessor effectively set fire to £1.30 billion of the carmaker’s funds.
We get why the French brand would want to avoid reprising the eighth biggest loss-making car in history.
7. Smart Fortwo (1997-2006 – £3,762 per unit)
How did such a dinky automobile become the biggest loss-making car ever? Probably because squeezing all the necessary functional gubbins into such a tight space required a mountain of engineering time and know-how.
It ended up costing parent company Mercedes-Benz £2.82 billion after sales fell well short of their target, but respect where it’s due, they ended up revisiting the Fortwo and making it work.
6. Jaguar X-Type (2001-2009 – £3,945 per unit)
The XE has been a huge hit for Jaguar but its previous venture in the compact executive market was notably less successful. The final product fell way short of the standard set by key rivals like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class and Jaguar ended up with a £1.43 billion lump to swallow.
5. Audi A2 (2000-2005 – £6,340 per unit)
The four rings may be one of the coolest brands out there right now but not all Audis have been created equally and Audi would probably prefer you forgot about the A2. Truth be told though, the A2 was ahead of its time, making heavy use of aluminium, which helped reduce weight – a technique used widely today, especially at Jaguar Land Rover.
In total, the A2 lost Audi £1.2 billion.
4. Peugeot 1007 (2004-2009 – £12,947 per unit)
It was the first compact car to feature sliding doors and when it lost Peugeot £1.59 billion, you’d understand why the head of the French brand would want to slide the door shut on the head of whoever signed off the agonisingly naff 1007.
3. Renault Vel Satis (2001-2009 – £15,751 per unit)
Is it an MPV? Is it an executive car? Who cares, the Vel Satis was a depressing failure of a car for Renault, which achieved just a third of its 3,500 UK sales target and cost Renault a cool £1 billion.
2. Volkswagen Phaeton (2001-2013 – £23,655 per unit)
The Phaeton was a bit of a vanity project for VW’s then-chairman Ferdinand Piech, which arguably placed it outside normal financial considerations. Still, it is the most costly model ever for VW, losing the brand £1.68 billion.
1. Bugatti Veyron (2005-2013 – £3,887,051 per unit)
Yep, the biggest loss-making car ever is also one of the most iconic. The Veyron was always going to lose money, it was the vanity project to end all vanity projects, losing the VW Group £3.8 million every time they sold one, hitting them for a total of £1.43 billion when all’s said and done.