Why can't production cars reach 300 mph?

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Why can't production cars reach 300 mph

The Bugatti Chiron is just getting out to the extremely well-heeled public. Customers have started taking deliveries of the 1,480-horsepower ballistic road machine, and we're curious if any of them will ever find the room to explore the car's rumored 288-mph top speed.

Jason Fenske from Engineering Explained has a few questions, too, but his are related to the fact that no production car has ever hit the seemingly unreachable 300-mph mark. With Jason, however, if you get a question you also get an answer.

In today's video, Jason breaks it all down for us using science and math. The specific question is why hasn't a production car hit 300 mph. The answer involves a number of factors. To figure all of it out, Jason figures out what it would actually take for a car to hit that figure and compares those numbers to the Chiron's predecessor, the Bugatti Veyron.

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Using some published information on the Veyron, Jason finds that it should take around 1,800 horsepower for a production car to be capable of reaching 300 mph. It could take less power than that, but much of the power is required to overcome the cooling issues you would run across trying to make a car go that fast. With all the scoops and inlets you'd need to cool an engine that can make that much horsepower, a good deal of power is spent overcoming the aerodynamic issues caused by the cooling requirements. On top off all that, you'd need some more power to overcome tire friction.

If you could tweak the aero to make the car more slippery, then you could relax the horsepower figure a bit. Of course, that would reduce the cooling performance, and that could mean the engine would blow up during a high-speed run. If a company like Bugatti were to do that, it would leave a handful of wealthy customers quite angry. 

So when Bugatti builds a car like the Chiron, with a top speed approaching 300 mph, it's quite an amazing feat of technical engineering. From the tires, to the volume of air required for cooling and power, to the fact that the car can run without incident, it all adds up to a herculean effort in exotic levels of performance.

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