Molsheim (France) (AFP)
All car manufacturers are embarking on hybrid or electric vehicles, but the French Bugatti remains a special case, firmly anchored in the niche of super sports cars stuffed with petrol. However, the company is trying to reclaim ecological virginity by offsetting its CO2 emissions.
Its image, which is little related to the increasingly popular environmental values, could be a handicap for Bugatti, but the manufacturer based in Molsheim, near Strasbourg (east), displays brilliant health.
"2019 was an excellent year for Bugatti, the best since 1998 in terms of turnover, deliveries and results," notes CEO Stephan Winkelmann.
In all, 81 cars left the Alsatian workshop last year. The 450 Chiron already in circulation or currently in production (at a price of 2.5 million euros per unit, excluding taxes) and the 40 Divos (5 million euros) which will succeed them, have all already found takers.
And for the moment, no electric or hybrid Bugatti is envisaged: "For the next 10 years, only the W16 engine (with 16 cylinders, note) is up to the emotion and passion expected by our hypercar customers. The W16 is the best engine you can make, "said Winkelmann.
However, the manufacturer, which belongs to the Volkswagen group, wants to buy a pipe: given its low production, the Molsheim brand is able to offset 100% of CO2 emissions, as well as the emissions from its factory.
- "It is our responsibility" -
"Bugatti has a lot of visibility, so it is important to take this step, to be an example for the rest of the industry", continues Stephan Winkelmann. "It's more than a question of image, it's our responsibility," he says.
There are currently less than 700 Bugatti in circulation in the world and the luxurious Veyron or Chiron do not go out very often: the owner of a Bugatti owns on average ... 42 cars. Sportspersons in Molsheim therefore generally travel barely 1,200 kilometers per year.
"In 2018, this represented 1,380 tonnes of CO2 equivalent released by Bugatti and its customers", specifies Christophe Piochon, the managing director.
To compensate for this pollution, the brand, which has employed a full-time environmental coordinator since 2016, has launched various actions, purchasing sections of Amazonian forest to avoid deforestation on these plots, and replanting more than 4,000 trees in forests decimated by bark beetles in Alsace.
The plant also switched to biogas and green electricity to have a neutral level of rejection.
For their part, buyers do not all have ecology pegged to the body. But "many make donations to environmental associations on their side, without necessarily being aware," says Tim Bravo, director of communication for the brand.
- Clinical cleanliness -
The names of the "happy few" owners of a Bugatti are kept secret, even if some such as footballers Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, or the American boxer Floyd Mayweather have posted on social networks with their racing car.
Customers who come to take possession of their car in Molsheim can in any case visit the assembly workshop at the clinic, where 25 specialized mechanics work.
They then take a discovery tour in a Bugatti Chiron driven by one of the two house test pilots, Andy Wallace or Pierre-Henri Raphanel.
The former French Formula 1 driver, or the British winner of the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1988, thus show an overview of the capabilities of the 1,500 horsepower car to the future owners.
Of course, no question of speed spikes on Alsatian roads: the runways of Colmar airport are thus reserved in certain slots to give free rein to the unimaginable power of the Bugatti Chiron Grandsport reserved for testing.
As for consumption, "it all depends on your use," says Andy Wallace. "The other day, I went to get a journalist at Basel-Mulhouse airport, on the round trip (about 230 km, note), with heavy traffic and driving normally I consumed 13.5 liters per 100 kilometers, which is quite reasonable for such a car. "
"But if there was a straight 60 km road and you kept the accelerator fully depressed all the way, you empty the 100 liter tank in seven minutes! It's short, but you will have made 60 km to over 400 km / h ".
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