Industry veteran and longstanding Bugatti employee Gregor Gries has been appointed head of technical development at the OEM, having served as head of powertrain development since 2004.
An incredibly experienced and passionate engineer, Gries has played an instrumental role in the development of numerous Bugatti models during his tenure, including the Veyron, Chiron, Centodieci, Divo, Bolide and the Chiron Pur Sport. Since 1990, his work has involved the development and testing of powertrains and engine components.
In one notable project kickstarted in 1997, Gries and a colleague became technical project managers for the W18 engine. For the subsequent Bugatti program he designed the drive system over the course of nine months, and later the EB 118 (1998), EB 218 (1999) and 18.3 Chiron (1999) design concepts.
By 2001, the two engineers had modified the design and developed a W16 engine. The original assignment, as Gries recalls, was to “build a car with 1,000ps that would accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in less than three seconds, had a top speed of more than 400km/h and was suitable for a night out at the opera.
“I will never forget the first run of the engine on the test bench. To see the W16 running flawlessly and reaching its full power was a terrific and extraordinary feeling, just like the first time driving over 400km/h. It was proof that our ideas and calculations worked in practice,” he continued.
Since then, Gries has been responsible for developing the 8.0-liter W16 engine including its components, control unit, gearbox, powertrain, cooling and exhaust system. Numerous challenges were presented along the way: “For example, at that time there was no engine test bench suitable for this power output, so we developed one ourselves.”
According to Bugatti, the engineers broke new ground in terms of cooling, package, power transmission, handling and aerodynamics. At that time, many critics believed it was impossible to design a production car capable of driving reliably and safely at speeds of over 400km/h.
“I am so proud and happy to have been with Bugatti from the beginning and to have played a key role in the development of every model, from the Veyron, to [Bugatti’s] record-breaking cars, to the Chiron, right through to the extreme Bolide.”
Gries said he is looking forward to tackling his new role head on: “We will continue to initiate more projects in the future and to push the boundaries of what is considered feasible even further. I look forward to this challenge.”
Bugatti president, Stephan Winkelmann, commented, “With Gregor Gries, we have an experienced engineer as head of technical development – no other employee in the company has been so deeply involved in development as he has, or for so long. I am delighted that he will now be responsible for and driving forward other projects at Bugatti.”