For its ongoing Throwback Thursday series, VW decided to remind us of the time its ARVW diesel went 219.598 miles in one hour. That’s a record that was set at the Nardo test track in 1980.
Now, when I think of high speeds and the Volkswagen Group, I always think of the Bugatti Chiron. That car can go more than 300 miles per hour, so do we think, with fuel stops and all, it could beat the ARVW?
Well, as we discovered this week, the Bugatti doesn’t exactly sip fuel. In fact, it’s the worst-performing vehicle (fuel economy-wise) on sale today. It hits a pitiful 10 mpg combined. In fact, at top speed, the Chiron will empty its 100-liter fuel tank in just 9 minutes. Which is very useful information.
Assuming that the Chiron can run for 9 minutes at a time, we can start trying to figure out how far it will theoretically go in an hour. For this thought experiment, I’ve decided to assume the test is also being run at the Nardo test track since Porsche now owns it and in my mind, that means they’ll just hand us the key.
That does pose a problem since a quick look at the track suggests that there isn’t a pit lane quite in the same way that, say, Spa has a pit lane. I wasn’t able to find any useful information about how the track’s pits work online, so I turned to Google Earth, which seems to suggest that the garages are way out in the middle of the circle.
Fortunately, there does appear to be an escape road between 5 and 6 o’clock. It looks to be about 1 kilometer and a half long and has a nice big tarmac pad in the middle where a fuel truck could park.
If we’re being safe and using F1 pit lane speed limits, that means we’re stuck doing 50 km/h for that 1.5 km which, according to my calculations, would take roughly 100 seconds (it’s actually 107, but let’s round down to give the car the best chance possible).
That’s not the full length of the pit stop, though, because we also need to fill the car with fuel. The average pump can fill a tank at a rate of 50 liters per minute (a very handy number) so it would 120 seconds to fill the 100-liter tank. Add that to the 100 seconds it takes to get in and out of the pits and that’s a total of 220 seconds.
Out of a spirit of generosity—to myself and Bugatti—I’m not going to take any fuel out of the tank for the pit stop. First, because I’m assuming that the nine-minute number is a rough estimate, and second because I feel confident that the car could coast through most of the pits.
So, for every 540 seconds of track time, the car needs another 220 seconds for fuelling. That can happen 4.7 times in an hour. Great! So how far can it go per 540 seconds?
Well, we know that the Chiron can get to 300 mph in just 13.6 seconds. That equates to 9.8 m/s^2, which the eagle-eyed among you will notice means the Chiron averages 1G all the way to 300 mph! From there, we can calculate that the Chiron would cover 906.3 meters in that time–see workings below.
We also have to account for the amount of time the Chiron takes to slow down. Bugatti tells us that the Chiron will stop from 250 mph in just 9.3 seconds. That’s not 300 mph, but we’re only trying to slow to 50 km/h and this is just for fun, so let’s assume those factors cancel each other out. In that time, the Chiron is covering another 518.3 meters.
If we take 9.3 and 13.6 out of the total 540 second time, we’re left with 517.1 seconds of running time at top speed. To that, we can add the 906.3 meter it takes to get up to speed plus 518.3 meters it takes to slow down (1,424.6m) to the total distance we achieve in the remaining time to get the total distance covered during every stint.
The distance covered during our 517 seconds at top speed is easy enough to calculate and it comes out to 69,349.31 meters. Nice. Add on the meters we consumed starting and stopping, and you get 70,773.97 meters. Let’s add another klick and a half for the pits and you get 70,775.47 meters, which we know we can do 4.7 times. That doesn’t really account for the location of the pits on the track, but this is an idealized world. In this idealized world, the Chiron can run a total of 332.64 km in an hour.
Put into imperial measurements and that’s 206.69 miles in an hour or nearly 13 fewer than the ARVW. Not bad for a 2.4-liter turbodiesel making just 177 hp. That’s the power of economy (and a wildly impractical aerodynamic body)!
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