Bugatti Chief Not Convinced By Electric Power

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Looks like Molsheim will stick with its quad-turbo W16 for a while.

The giant engine in the Bugatti Chiron may be the last of its kind. But that doesn't mean electric motors are up to the task of replacing it.

The Alsatian marque's chief executive Stefan Winkelmann told Autocar that he doesn't believe that electric powertrains, while better than hybrid solutions, are currently capable of delivering the kind of power and range that would be needed in a Bugatti. At least not without making the vehicle too big and heavy – two aspects in which the Chiron is already pushing the envelop as it is.

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The Volkswagen Group originally began developing its 8.0-liter W16 engine in the 1990s. Naturally aspirated in the Bentley Hunaudières concept, it produced 623 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque. It entered production in 2005 in the Bugatti Veyron, quadruple-turbocharged to produce 987 hp and 922 lb-ft – boosted to 1,184 hp and 1,106 lb-ft for the Veyron Super Sport and Vitesse, then on up to 1,479 hp and 1,180 lb-ft for the current Chiron.

To get that much power from an electric powertrain would take several large motors and an enormous battery pack, and Winkelman doesn't believe the technology is there yet.

Some of Bugatti's would-be rivals might beg to differ. The Nio EP9, for example, boasts 1,341 hp, 265 miles of range, a 2.7-second 0-60 time and a 194-mph top speed. The Rimac C_Two, for another, claims 1,888 hp, 400 miles, 0-60 in 1.85 seconds, and a 258-mph top speed. And Pininfarina is developing the Battista with 1,900 hp, over 300 miles, 0-60 in under two seconds, and a top speed in excess of 250 mph.

Those figures might give Winkelmann something to think about. But for the time being, it looks like Bugatti will stick with internal combustion for the Chiron, and maybe even its eventual successor.


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