For a supercar, Hypercar can be delivered to customers in the most perfect condition as well as ensuring that most functions operate smoothly, all cars before leaving the factory are must undergo operational tests in many different conditions. Furthermore, with brands like Bugatti, the requirements for the output quality of the cars are very high as the cars can reach speeds exceeding 400 km/h, so mistakes are not allowed to happen. Test drivers will be the final quality inspectors of the cars to ensure the vehicle’s stable performance before leaving the factory.
Steve Jenny, a test driver from the Bugatti brand, recently shared about his career. As a test driver, all he needs to do is focus completely on the task, drive on test roads, feel every vibration, catch every sound, even the smallest. He is also responsible for the final quality checks and is responsible for ensuring that the world’s largest super sports cars are delivered to customers in perfect condition.
Basically, this is a dream job, but it also requires a lot of discipline and requires high concentration from the test driver to promptly detect existing problems. He is often assigned to test drive two cars a week through a meticulous process, each with a different configuration. As an expert in quality assurance, Steve Jenny pays attention to even the smallest detail and has inspected 90% of all Bugatti vehicles handcrafted in Molsheim to date and has driven more than 350,000 km. on Veyron, Chiron and Divo.
Growing up in Alsace, the French test driver had a strong passion for cars from an early age. As soon as he got his driver’s license, he built a racing car and even entered a race as a co-driver before becoming a mechanic and measurement technician. Steve Jenny then sought further education and became a quality tester with a keen eye for extreme precision.
In May 2004, a friend called him and told him about cars on a private track in Colmar that were as fast as fighter jets. This aroused his curiosity and made him immediately investigate. After researching, he learned that these were the first prototypes of the Bugatti Veyron, and that the historic car brand had returned and handcrafted the first Hypercar in Molsheim, not far away.
In June, Steve Jenny took part in a mountain race near Molsheim and he came to see the Bugatti facilities. He was deeply impressed by Bugatti’s blend of heritage with precision engineering and a short time later, he sent in his application. Steve shares: “One Friday in July, I received a phone call in the afternoon informing me about the recruitment. I drove to Molsheim immediately and signed on as one of the first employees.”
In the near future, Steve Jenny will be tasked with establishing a vehicle inspection department. They will be responsible for developing a process that ensures each Bugatti operates flawlessly and complies with strict criteria. The cars are not a Bugatti until Steve approves them and releases them from the factory. In the coming months, the team will develop new quality control procedures and install a measurement and analysis room so that vehicles are thoroughly tested before being delivered to customers.
His first test drive was driving a Veyron on March 3, 2005 with the task of capturing parameters and detecting outstanding problems. That’s why his first test drive took place in anxiety and nervousness when he was assigned the responsibility of performing an important task.
Christoph Piochon, then Quality Assurance Production Manager, managed the production department and was looking for an enthusiastic test driver and technician who knew his way around Alsace to start work in September 2005. The objective of the job is to test drive every Veyron after being inspected by a technician according to a test program with established criteria before being delivered to the vehicle’s owner.
Experts have been involved in many debates about how many kilometers of test driving a car is needed to cover as many situations as the customer may encounter. In addition to highway and city driving, test driving also includes accelerating and going over ramps at airports and on racetracks. Bugatti vehicles are the only cars in the world that undergo such a rigorous and in-depth final inspection process.
Steve Jenny initially checks the region and country the vehicle will be delivered to and sets up the homologation and then the customer’s chosen configuration. He checks to see if the car has all the options the customer ordered. Next, the quality controller tests all of the vehicle’s electrical functions. Only when these steps were completed did Steve Jenny start the W16 engine and slowly drive the car out of the Atelier. He will then drive along one of four predetermined driving routes with summer, winter and other themes.
Typically, the test drive lasts up to five hours at a time and usually covers a distance of about 300 km through the Alsace region. During a five-hour dyno test, Steve Jenny checks pedal weight and feedback, steering feel, and listens attentively for unusual sounds. At the 80km mark, he ran over a rough gravel road, performing a rigorous test to measure comfort levels and suspension noise.
To test acceleration and high-speed capabilities, Steve drove every Bugatti on the closed runway of Colmar airport, pushing the cars close to their speed limit. During this test, all Bugattis were subjected to various functional tests at speeds exceeding 300 km/h, launch control, brake deployment, rapid lane changes, emergency braking at high speeds. 200 km/h, full braking and ESP check. These tests are important in giving confidence to Bugatti drivers around the world. Steve Jenny shares: “With a personalized and hand-crafted car, everything has to be perfect. Our aim is to repair even the smallest of causes before shipping the vehicle. Only then will our customers be satisfied.”
After the tests at Colmar airport, Steve leisurely returned to Atelier. He will fill out and note the test drive inspection sheet if the car meets all the criteria in the long list of criteria. If the car meets the requirements, the Bugatti team will take the car to change the transmission oil, replace the wheels, and install the original chassis. After replacing these parts, he will again take the wheel of the car for an hour-long test drive of at least 50 km to approve the final driving dynamics. In general, all Bugatti cars are driven between 350 and 750 km for detailed inspection before leaving the factory.