The automotive world, with its fierce competition and demanding customers at all levels, from economy class to luxury, is not easy to become a legend. And when a company receives such status, it means that it really deserved it. In the case of the Brabus brand, this is a full 100 percent match. When they say tuning, think "Brabus" and vice versa.
As usual, it all started with a dream. Founder Bodo Bushmann in the 70s was tired of the standardized car industry and went to the workshops in his town Bottrop in West Germany to tune his car. And when I realized that I could not cope with incoming requests and ideas, I created my company with a friend Klaus Brackmann, since German laws required at least two founders. So in 1977, the Brabus atelier was born (after the first letters of the names of the founders of Brackman-Buschmann), which was destined to go down in history. Interestingly, Mr. Brakman, according to rumors, did not show interest in such a business and sold his share to a friend for symbolic money.
Over 40 years of work under the management of Bodo Bushmann, the company has become the world's leading tuning studio. Her specialization is the customization of engines, exteriors and interiors of cars produced by Daimler AG, namely Mercedes-Benz, Maybach and Smart. The company's products are extremely brutal appearance, generous use of innovative materials such as carbon fiber and other bold solutions. Prices start from about 70 thousand euros with VAT on tuned A and C classes, on the Smart EQ Fortwo and are limited only by the client's imagination. Heavy-duty all-wheel drive version of the Mercedes AMG G63 SUV called the Brabus 850 4x4 can cost under half a million euros. And the cost of classic collectible models like the 280 SE convertibles goes under a million.
The Buschmann family has always loved yachts, so it is not surprising that in recent years the company has actively introduced itself into a new market. For this, a separate brand Brabus Marine was created. The company entered two years ago into an agreement with Axopar, the Finnish manufacturer of high-speed boats. Their first joint products were customized boats Brabus Shadow 800 and 500. In addition, the owner of the "Brabus" owns a 36-meter superyacht Brabus 7 from Sanlorenzo. About her, about yachting, about further development and other interesting topics told the new leader of Brabus Group, Konstantin Bushmann, who led the company last year after the death of his father Bodo.
Konstantin, how did your passion for yachting start?
Our family has strong maritime traditions. Different boats were first with my grandfather, then my father. Every summer I was on board with my family, friends and relatives. Therefore, for me it is a big part of life. During his lifetime, his father was able to finish the excellent Brabus 7 at the Sanlorenzo shipyard and managed to enjoy it. He put a lot of energy into it, because here it was important for all of us to make it special, that is, in essence, to tune it to our taste. And we managed it!
And if we talk about your main business, what percentage of sales fall on the Russian market, if it is not a secret?
We have been actively represented on the Russian market since 1998, and it remains very important to us. Our enterprises and showrooms are regularly visited by clients from Russia, so I can conclude that you know our brand well. As for other regions, China and South East Asia have been looking very good lately. As for China, for us this is a strategically important area.
What is your main competitor in tuning?
In fact, we have no real competitors, in my opinion. We work in a specific niche where we feel very comfortable.
You stood at the helm of the company just a year ago. Have you already got used to your new position and big responsibility?
Yes, I feel comfortable, despite my youth. I have been working in Brabus for many years, almost my entire adult life, because this is a family business. Give me a count - it turns out, for the past 13 years, and in a variety of positions. That is, I can say that I know very well how our company works. And naturally, thanks to my experience and the help of senior colleagues, I had a clear vision of the further development of our brands.
How often do you travel, representing the interests of the company abroad, meeting with clients and so on?
Often. I practically do not get out of the aircraft, to be honest. About 100-150 days a year I am not at home, sometimes more. Now that the yacht line has appeared in our business, we need to attend even more events: exhibitions in Cannes and Monaco, Boot Dusseldorf, and so on. And of course, we are represented in all major automotive forums. Total runs under 80 auto shows for the year.
Do you consider the possibility of somehow entering the Formula 1 or other sports competitions?
No, we have no such plans. Brabus is a luxury brand. Our market positioning is different, for example, from AMG. Brabus supercars are very powerful and fast, but they have all the possible luxury "chips". And we focus on creating special impressions for the driver, rather than setting records in circles like in races. Let's say we have a “charged” Maybach with Brabus tuning. It hasan engine capacity of 900 horsepower. But the point of the car is not to all the time put pressure on the gas and rush 350 kilometers per hour. Therefore, the driver of this car doesn’t squeeze even 300 “horses” out of it, but at any moment it is ready to dash off at the bat!
What innovative materials do you use in your sports cars?
Over the past year we have implemented several interesting finishes. We have a selection of gorgeous leather - Brabus Fine Leather Collection. We use several types of skin in combination with firmware and stitches at the exit, we get unique combinations and patterns. This is especially popular in Asia. Also highlighting our carbon. We have our own production of this complex innovative material. We ourselves produce other composite materials. A separate area of our research and development is devoted to such vehicles.
Have you mastered 3D printing technology?
Yes, we ourselves print some parts on 3D printers; this is very convenient, both in prototypes and in “working” machines.
Who develops the design?
We have a German design team in which not only Germans work, but also professionals from all over the world: from Korea, USA and so on.
How did the idea of working with Axopar come about?
My father and I once went to a boat show in Dusseldorf and chose Axopar 37 Sun-Top there. We bought this boat and made tuning by Brabus. Then, quite by chance, the owner of Axopar saw our tuned version in the Mediterranean, he really liked it, and he offered to cooperate. So it all started!
How did you design your joint project - the Brabus Shadow boats.
Our designers received a technical task with a description of what we would like to get in the end. We took as a basis the flagship model of the Finnish shipyard Axopar 37 Sun-Top. The limited version from Brabus consists of only 20 copies. Knowing this and realizing that in the end you need to make a yacht with Brabus DNA, our designers got down to business, made preliminary sketches, there were only a few variations. Then the idea was approved with the management of our company and out of 30 or 40 proposed options, we chose three or four and put it back into development to prepare the final version.
Are you considering options for cooperation with other shipyards other than Axopar?
No, at the moment we have an agreement with Axopar, and we are happy to work with our Finnish partners. I think we get an impressive product. Together, we created the Brabus Marine brand and, under its umbrella, are developing interesting products. The first project was 20 yachts Brabus Shadow 800 at a price of 400 thousand euros. At the exhibition in Dusseldorf in January 2019, we presented the 28-foot Shadow 500 model based on the Axopar 28. And in 2020 we plan to launch the new flagship model, more than 37 feet, but also with Axopar.
Where are Brabus Marine yachts built?
Together with Axopar we build a separate shipyard in Poland, its capacity will be from 50 to 100 yachts per year.
Thinking about buying your own shipyard to be able to build your own superyachts without partners?
We built one superyacht together with Sanlorenzo. This is the 36.5 meter high Brabus 7. This is the only superbright in the history of the Brabus tuning, it was launched in 2017 and is being sold by Frazer brokers. It was my father's yacht. He designed it with Brabus engineers. Our engineers and two professional project managers from Germany registered at the shipyard on an ongoing basis, so that everything turned out to be the best possible way. I'm sure this is the best quality Sanlorenzo superyacht!
What was done to make the Brabus 7 different from the standard model of the SL 118 from Sanlorenzo, on the basis of which it was built?
To achieve maximum quality, we requested more than 130 improvements over the basic version, including a reinforced body to reduce vibrations, new wiring, better sound insulation, customized flybridge, and so on. In total, the change has accumulated a half million euros. So far, however, I have not decided what I will buy when I sell Brabus 7. As an option, I look at sailboats up to 35-36 meters in length, so that I can stand on the wheel myself from time to time.