The flying doctors are available round-the-clock and are ready to board the next aircraft in order to provide customers with the support they need either at the nearest dealer’s workshop or at their homes if it is not possible to provide advice over the telephone or the required results cannot be achieved in this way.
The telemetry system allows two-way communication, not only from the Bugatti to the customer service centre but also vice versa. Customer Service can transmit data to the vehicle in order to change configurations or, to a certain extent, to carry out software updates.
This sophisticated technology is not packaged in a particularly spectacular way. The Customer Service laptop “talks” to an aluminium box in the vehicle which is only 140 mm wide, 50 mm high and 100 mm long. Despite its small size and light weight, the box is packed with power, housing eight vehicle networks such as CAN (Controller Area Network) buses. An on-board network links the various controllers of the vehicle. The control mechanisms, which have greatly increased in number, exchange data as in a telephone conference call. The telemetry box listens in to these communications in an event-controlled way, recording diagnostic information from at least 30 control units in the vehicle and forwarding it in encrypted form to customer service depending on the requests received from Molsheim.
In addition to everyday technical support, the tracking of stolen vehicles is a feature of the telemetry system that is highly appreciated by customers. While owners of a Veyron still had to report the theft of their Bugatti to Molsheim personally in order to activate the stolen vehicle tracking system, the Chiron will draw attention to itself automatically using the telemetry system in situations that are unusual for the car, for example if it is transported by truck.
“Our telemetry system has taken a gigantic leap forwards in almost all respects,” Uffmann explains. “We were already able to do a lot for customers in the case of the Veyron,” he adds. He says that stolen vehicle tracking is part of the service, adding a spectacular example to the everyday topics. “In some cases, we have even been able to find customers’ vehicles before the thieves were able to cross the border.”
Following the successful premiere of the telemetry system for customer service on the Veyron, Uffmann discovered another area of application for the system. “Using the experience we had gained with the Veyron, we already used telemetry in the technical development phase of the Chiron. That was a new approach,” says Uffmann. This way, it was not only possible to test the individual development phases of the new system rapidly in practice; the vehicle developers were also able to provide active support for the various test drives throughout the world. For example, the prototypes were monitored on a real-time basis from Bugatti’s development back office in Wolfsburg. In the case of long-term test vehicles, statistics were prepared and evaluated. This applied both to testing in hot conditions in the USA and to test drives in South Africa. Using this approach, problems could be detected and solved faster. “Telemetry made a key contribution to the development of the Chiron. At the same time, the telemetry system itself was also improved”, the engineer reports.
When asked about data protection and security, Norbert Uffmann underlines that this is a top priority. All customers whose Bugattis receive telemetry support have given their consent in advance in the vehicle purchase contract. With only a few exceptions, all owners have given their consent as they see telemetry as the perfect way of providing the all-round service that they appreciate and enjoy using. Data transmission between vehicle and server is effected with individual security certificates depending on the topic concerned. The security certificates are continually updated in line with the latest Volkswagen Group security standards. In the case of Bugatti, only a strictly limited number of highly qualified employees have access to the data. Access rights are also individually defined depending on the topic and the employees concerned.
“Bugatti’s telemetry system is our version of the connected car – exclusive and individual for our customers and saving time and money for our developers,” says Uffmann. “This is ‘Connected Car‘ à la Bugatti, and it has already been available for more than a decade.“