Where does the Bugatti Veyron come from
Molsheim dream factory
One month before the start of production in Molsheim, the body is assembled completely for the first time with the monocoque and frame part structure to ensure that it fits and is flush. Each part is given a kit number and then goes to the paint shop. There it takes three weeks to apply the individual layers of paint. At SichtCarbon, Bugatti is the market leader with its manufacturing quality and variety of colors, there are six layers. With topcoat, there are up to eight layers, depending on whether it is plain, metallic or effect paint. This is why the process is so time-consuming because it is entirely handcrafted and every single layer is sanded and polished before the next is applied.
Then the starting shot is given for the assembly of the Chiron in Molsheim. Christophe Piochon, member of the Bugatti management and responsible for production and logistics, ensures that all processes run smoothly and that nothing comes to a standstill. “We have a small factory here in Molsheim with a small warehouse. Neither our systems nor the processes can be compared with other car production facilities, ”explains the 40-year-old graduate engineer and mechanical engineer who worked in quality assurance for the Volkswagen Group before joining Bugatti. "‘ Just in Time ‘has another special dimension at Bugatti."
The production hall of the Chiron, known by Bugatti as the “Atelier”, is over 1,000 square meters in size. It was inaugurated in 2005 and has the shape of an oval, based on the logo of the French brand, the so-called Bugatti Macaron. It was designed by the renowned architect Professor Gunter Henn from Munich. The Veyron 16.4 and its derivatives were built here for over ten years. For the Chiron, the studio and associated facilities underwent some structural changes in order to take account of the new product features and the increased complexity of the manufacturing process. For example, the exterior parts are now preassembled in the new technology center on the factory premises and subjected to an initial quality control there. In addition, a new roller dynamometer was developed that is able to withstand the 1,500 horsepower of the Chiron. The most noticeable innovation is the floor in the studio. It is made of epoxy, dissipates electricity and prevents static electricity. At the same time, with its reflective sheen in white, it creates an atmosphere that can be compared to a catwalk in a fashion house. “We're building a super sports car, of course,” says Christophe Piochon. “But the way we do it, by handcrafting an individual product for each customer in this special atmosphere, makes us unique. That is 'Haute Couture de l’Automobile' ”.
Assembly lines and robots cannot be found at Bugatti. Here, like in the workshop of a Formula 1 racing team, work is done in boxes. There are a total of twelve stations. At the first station, the drive train is prepared for assembly. This comes pre-assembled from the Volkswagen Group's engine plant in Salzgitter, where specialists build the 1,500 hp engine in a pilot hall set up exclusively for Bugatti and then put it through its paces on the test bench for eight hours under high load. The new 7-speed dual clutch transmission, which has become larger and more powerful, is also subjected to a similar procedure there, in order to cope with the increase in performance of the Chiron and the enormous torque of 1,600 Nm.
At the second station, the 628 kilogram drive train, which has not gained weight compared to the 300 HP weaker Veyron due to the increased use of carbon and other lightweight construction materials, is installed with the chassis. There are two chassis assembly platforms in the studio. Three employees per station are busy assembling the chassis for about a week. Unlike a classic assembly line worker, every employee has to master the structure of the entire chassis, i.e. the rear end, monocoque and pre-assembly of the frame.
The rear end is built around the drive train, so to speak. At the same time, the monocoque and the front end are connected and provided with the necessary cable harnesses. This is also where the pipes that connect the engine at the rear to the radiators at the front are installed. Cooling is extremely important in the Chiron. There are three water pumps in the vehicle, a large one for the high temperature circuit and two small ones for the low temperature circuit. The diameter of the pipes corresponds to that of a fire brigade jet pipe, the penetration rates are correspondingly high. The coolant flows along the driver's side to the engine and, after it has been cooled, back on the passenger side.
The only electronic aid for chassis assembly is a new EC screwdriver technology. It enables every screw connection on the chassis to be saved by means of a data curve in a connected computer, which then sends the signal to the fitter when a screw connection has reached the correct torque. There are over 1,800 screw points in the Chiron, 1,068 of which require documentation.
The highlight of the chassis assembly is undoubtedly the wedding - the joining of the monocoque and the rear end. 14 titanium screws ensure the permanent and extremely resilient connection of both elements. Titanium was chosen to save weight. A screw weighs only 34 grams.
Finally, each chassis is given four wheels and then rolls to the next station - the filling system. All fluids are brought into the vehicle here, engine and transmission oil, brake fluid, hydraulic oil and coolant. The latter is sucked in by a vacuum, which is held for 10 minutes in order to check the tightness of the circuit again. This is also where the 16-cylinder engine is started in the vehicle for the first time - every time an exciting moment for the employees.
The chassis then moves a few meters further onto the roller dynamometer. In the course of the preparations for the Chiron, the largest investments were made in this system. The conversion, including larger electrical cables, was necessary because the old roller dynamometer could not withstand the 1,500 hp and 1,600 Nm of the Chiron. The new system is now so powerful that electrical energy of up to 1,200 amperes is produced during operation. Bugatti feeds this excess electricity back into Molsheim's local supply network. The Bugatti roller dynamometer is the most powerful of its kind in the world.
The impressive system is located in a separate room with its own ventilation for vehicle cooling and air pollution control. For safety reasons, all wheels of the vehicle are attached to the floor with specially developed adapters. Here, speeds of up to 200 km / h and accelerations at full load (1,500 PS) are simulated. An employee sits at the wheel and follows all test processes on a monitor. Among other things, it controls the engine adaptation, communication between the engine and the transmission, the setting of the air mass meter and the clutch, as well as the function of ESC, ABS and other programs. The exam lasts between two and three hours and covers about 60 kilometers.
If the Chiron has passed all tests on the roller dynamometer, it is given its outer shell at the next station. This is where the exterior parts, which on the Chiron are made entirely of carbon, are attached to the vehicle. Since the individual lightweight components are sometimes very large and fragile, making this work stage extremely demanding, pre-assembly was introduced for the Chiron. This takes place in the new Bugattis technology center, which is only 200 meters away from the studio. Here the outer parts are placed on specially developed mobile brackets, the mounting points of which match those of the Chiron. The same lighting conditions prevail in this assembly hall as in the studio, so that any problems with the paintwork or damage to the parts can be identified and remedied here before assembly on the vehicle. It takes between three and four days for all external parts to be attached to the Chiron and for the gaps and joints to be precisely set.
Then it goes on to the water test. The Chiron takes a shower in the form of monsoon rain of varying intensity for over half an hour to prove its tightness.
Only then is the interior installed. Here, two employees make sure that all parts are in the right place inside the Chiron. This usually takes about three days. Customers can choose between the luxurious version of a fully leather-covered interior or a more sporty combination of leather and exposed carbon.
The Chiron is then prepared for the test and acceptance drive. For this purpose, the bolide is completely covered with a strong and transparent plastic film. This alone takes a whole day. It takes just as long to remove the film after the journey and clean the vehicle.
Before the Chiron leaves the studio for the acceptance drive for the first time, the electronic functions of the vehicle are checked and the track of the wheels is adjusted. Incidentally, Bugatti does not use the original wheels and the underbody of the final customer vehicle for the driving test, so that they are spared. The way back is then "comfortably" on the motorway to cool down the vehicle. If the test driver's thumb shows up when he returns to the studio, the transmission oil is changed and the wheels belonging to the vehicle and the underbody are installed. This is followed by a final test drive over 50 km in order to issue the final dynamic approval.
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