Bugatti Chiron: Insider look into the French hypercar makers workshop before the Geneva Motor show
In the run up to the Geneva Motor Show, the French hypercar brand has opened the doors of its Molsheim “atelier” to the press to highlight the complexities and attention to detail that go into hand-building each new Chiron
Many of the Bugatti Chiron’s associated figures are common knowledge. It has 16 cylinders and an eight-liter engine capacity. It sends 1500hp and 1600Nm of torque to all four wheels and can comfortably cruise at 400km/h. And then there’s the cost — $2.7 million before customization.
Yet, despite all of these figures which, in company president Wolfgang Dürheimer’s words, “test the limits of physics,” the number that may come as the biggest surprise is 20. That’s how many people it takes to hand assemble the 1800+ parts that go into making up each Chiron. Little wonder that it can take between six and nine months to go from commissioning a Chiron to delivering the finished car.
The production space looks more like a laboratory than a factory and is almost completely devoid of machinery. Even the floor is conductive in order to dissipate electrostatic charges.
“Neither our equipment nor our procedures can be compared with those of other car plants,” explains the company’s head of production and logistics, Christophe Piochon. “We are building a super sports car. That is quite clear. But it is the way we do it, hand-crafting an individual product for each customer in this very special atmosphere, that makes us unique. This is ‘Haute Couture de l’Automobile’.”
In fact, at Bugatti even tightening a bolt has been elevated to an art form. There are over 1800 bolts holding the car together and while many are tightened by hand, 1068 are tightened via something called an EC nutrunner system. As well as signalling when a bolt is tightened sufficiently it actually digitally logs the torque curve and forces applied to each bolt for future reference.
Another huge number is 1200 — the current in amps generated when a Chiron is tested on the in-house, custom-built dynamometer at speeds of up to 200km/h over the course of two to three ours. Rather than waste all of this energy generated, it is sent back to Molsheim’s power grid.
However, to ensure that the car really is built to perfection, each Chiron is subjected to a 600km test drive where it is raced on Colmar airport’s runway at speeds of 250km/h and beyond and is also tested on the Autobahn.
And so that the car looks as good as it goes, before it hits the road it’s wrapped in a protective foil — a process that takes an entire day. And when the test drive is completed the foil is removed, the car is fitted with its production wheels and production underbody and given its exterior paint finish.
Little wonder that the first production Chirons won’t be arriving with their owners until the end of March or that by the end of 2017 there will only be 70 Chirons on the road around the world.