Bugatti Chiron – how a 420 km/h hypercar is born

The Bugatti Chiron is the successor to the iconic Veyron, and features a pretty extensive list of figures that is certainly impressive. If you’ve even wondered what it takes to built such an engineering marvel, the carmaker has released more details on just the subject.

Built in the “Atelier“ at the company’s headquarters in Molsheim, France, the production of a Chiron only begins once a customer signs off on the exact configuration they want for their purchase. The company has stated that it will build up to 70 of these cars this year and on average, about six months pass between the start of production and the delivery of a Chiron.

While some of us merely have to pick the exterior colour of our cars from a range of possibly 5-6 options, Chiron customers will have 23 to choose from as part of the company’s customising programme – La Maison Pur Sang.

If that isn’t enough, there are also eight carbon variants, 31 different leather colours, eight shades of Alcantara, 30 colours of stitching, 18 carpet options and 11 seatbelt colours to browse and select from. Keep in mind that this isn’t include finer details such as logos, initials, and several other individual colour combinations.

Bugatti Chiron – how a 420 km/h hypercar is born

Only when all the above is said and done, will production actually begin, with 20 dedicated employees tasked to assemble “the world’s most powerful, fastest, most luxurious and most exclusive production super sports car from more than 1,800 individual parts.”

It all begins with the bodyshell, where the monocoque and chassis substructure is assembled for the first time to make sure that everything fits together perfectly. Next, the bodyshell will undergo three weeks of paintwork where up to eight layers of paint is applied by hand, with each coat being sanded down and polished before work can start on the next coat.

Once completed, the bodyshell is moved to the 1,000-square-foot “Atelier,” where assembly begins. No conveyor belts or robots are used at any time, and the car will make its way through 12 stations, where each aspect of the car is completed.

Station one is focused on preparing the Chiron’s powertrain, which consists of an 8.0 litre W16 engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The new mill is 25% more powerful than its predecessor, producing 1,500 PS and 1,600 Nm of torque. The top speed of the Chiron? Limited to 420 km/h.

Bugatti Chiron – how a 420 km/h hypercar is born

At station two, the powertrain is installed on the chassis, where the built unit will weigh 628 kg, making it no heavier than that of the Veyron, according to Bugatti. Next, three employees are stationed at each of the two chassis building stations, each responsible for assembling the car’s rear end, monocoque and frame.

From there, the car’s cooling and electrical systems are installed, followed by the “marriage” of the monocoque and the rear end. Fourteen titanium bolts are used (each weighing 34 grams) to ensure a secure bond. In total, 1,800 bolted joints can be found on the Chiron, tightened by an EC nutrunner system.

The system allows a data curve of each bolt tightened on the chassis to be stored on a computer, giving the assembly worker a signal when the right torque value is reached. Out of the 1,800 bolted joints, documentation is required for 1,068.

After the “marriage,” the car’s fluids are pumped in, where the 16 cylinder engine is started for the first time. The car then gets temporary wheels and is sent onto a rolling dynamometer. Bugatti says that the testing unit is the most powerful of its type in the world, and will generate current of up to 1,200 amps during operation.

Bugatti Chiron – how a 420 km/h hypercar is born

The powertrain is then put through various tests like acceleration under full power, where the various systems are monitored to ensure they are operating properly. The tests take between two and three hours, during which time the vehicle covers about 60 km, and for safety reasons, is fastened to the floor using special adapters.

Once the Chiron has passed all its tests, then only will it receive its exterior body panels at the following station. These parts, which are mainly made of carbon-fibre are extremely fragile, and are pre-assembled in Bugatti’s technology centre located only 200 metres away from the Atelier.

It takes between three and four days before the body parts have been installed on the Chiron and the gaps and joints have been precisely adjusted. Following this, the car undergoes a water test, where it is exposed to monsoon rain of varying intensity for 30 minutes to show that there are no leaks.

Bugatti Chiron – how a 420 km/h hypercar is born

Next up, the car’s interior fittings are installed, with two team members ensuring that all the parts are fitted in the right spot, a process that takes about three days. Only after this step will the Chiron leave the Atelier for the first time on its maiden test drive.

The Chiron is driven 300 km through the Vosges to the airport in Colmar, where it completes other tests requiring speeds in excess of 250 km/h on the runway. The return trip is done at a more “relaxed” pace on the Autobahn to allow the vehicle to cool down.

During the journey, the car does not use the original wheels and underbody on the test drive to ensure that these parts are protected against wear and damage. Only when the test driver approves of the car, will the Chiron’s transmission oil be changed and the original wheels and underbody are installed. A final 50-km test drive is done before a final dynamic approval is given.

Before the car keys are handed over to the customer, the Chiron is then cleaned and polished, followed by a trip to the light tunnel where six hours worth of inspection is done by a team member to spot for any blemishes. Correcting any that are found could take any time between three hours and three weeks.

The company says that a Chiron takes about nine months for this journey from configuration through to delivery. In that time, customers can visit Molsheim to witness the creation of their car, and even partake if they wish.

Even after delivery, owners will be supported by the famous Bugatti Flying Doctors, who will provide individual support to ensure that each vehicle remains in perfect condition. For some extra trivia, the latest Bugatti is christened after racing driver, Louis Chiron (Monegasque), just as the Veyron was named after Pierre Veyron, a French racing driver. Impressed?