Bugatti to rework steering on Veyron after VW CEO's test drive

Frankfurt. Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S., the VW Group's top sports brand, is working flat out on refining its super sports car, the Veyron 16.4.

Just a few months before the planned April 2004 delivery of the first car to the wife of VW chairman Ferdinand Piech, the two-seater with a price-tag of one million euros (plus taxes) is getting another make-over.

The steering of the 1001 horsepower Bugatti, which has a top speed of 406 kph, is going to "respond much more directly," Bugatti president Karl-Heinz Neumann told Automobilwoche.

After driving the Veyron at the Ehra-Lessien test centre, VW Group CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder complained about a spongy feel at the wheel. In addition, the gap widths in the leather-clad interior as well as the accuracy of the joints in the body work were not of a high-enough standard. As a result a media presentation was cancelled at short notice. "A Bugatti," said Neumann, "has to be perfect."

The Bugatti chief said there are also still problems in processing aluminum for the body work. The curves around the air vent behind the front wheels can only be achieved using extremely narrow radii of about four millimetres. In large-scale series auto production, radii usually measure 25 millimetres.

While processing the light metal, the supplier, Heilbronn's ThyssenKrupp subsidiary Drauz GmbH, hit the technical limits of conventional deep-drawing techniques. Together with experts from ThyssenKrupp Drauz and two Swiss specialist companies, Bugatti engineers are conducting tests to find out if the problems in distorting the material can be quickly overcome using an innovative technique ("Fluid-Zell").

Bugatti boss Neumann refuted rumors of thermal problems around the 64-valve engine of the Veyron, which is powered by four exhaust-turbo chargers: "From the outset, our cooling concept was designed for racing conditions, i.e. the toughest strains."

From November until March 2004 Bugatti aims to produce six units of the Veyron to "carefully break in the production." That half dozen will not get into customers' hands. "The watchword is perfection," said Neumann. Nevertheless, Bugatti's president is expecting to deliver 40 cars in total. In subsequent years, between 70 and 80 units are expected to leave the final assembly complex in Molsheim, France. "But after 300 cars we will definitely stop," said Neumann.

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