Why is a small Swedish automaker a decade ahead of the rest of the industry?

Why is a small Swedish automaker a decade ahead of the rest of the industry?

Enlarge / Winning the supercar game isn’t easy, but Christian von Koenigsegg’s company has survived two decades and continues to develop innovative new technologies that are years ahead of the competition. Ars spoke to him to find out what he is most proud of.

Franck Gutierrez

It would be mixing advertising campaigns, if not metaphors, to say that Swedes think differently about design, but I think there is something: Saab was famous for its left field, even down to where it located the ignition switch; Volvo is carefully going its own way with safety first, but with a modern, clean design. And then there’s Koenigsegg.

Installed in a former Swedish fighter base, this company has dug its own furrow in automotive superlatives: supercars, hypercars, today megacars. But always in its own way – how else to explain a three-cylinder engine with pneumatic actuators instead of camshafts, a V8 without a flywheel or a seven-clutch transmission that is both nine-speed automatic and six-speed manual gears, with pedal clutch no less?

At this year’s Monterey Car Week, few are as close to automotive royalty as the company’s eponymous founder, Christian von Koenigsegg. The company’s booth at one end of The Quail was one of the busiest of the day, as young TikTokkers in their best suits vied for its attention, or maybe just another look at its latest. creation, the CC850. Partly for the 50th anniversary, partly to celebrate the start of the company’s third decade, this is a new version of Koenigsegg’s first offering, the CC8S.

It all started with a door

“We started trying to innovate right from the start, because I didn’t believe we could survive just doing what everyone else is doing, because I always felt the need to bring something new to the table to make it worthwhile and viable and interesting. And we continued to do that over the years. And we got away with it all the time. So we got crazier and crazier in realizing our ideas or our crazy dreams,” von Koenigsegg told me.

For example, the distinctive doors. Dramatic door opening is almost mandatory unless your name is Ferrari or Porsche, and the CCS8’s doors did indeed open dramatically, rolling out, then turning 90 degrees. “The hinge, we found it very early on and then we robotized it, and it’s very practical, it frees up all the space and it doesn’t move very far. So compared to other solutions, I think it’s a great way to do it,” he said.

I wonder how many other automakers would go back and recreate their first car, incorporating all the lessons they learned along the way?
Enlarge / I wonder how many other automakers would go back and recreate their first car, incorporating all the lessons they learned along the way?

Franck Gutierrez

Koenigsegg also highlighted the CC8S’s convertible roof. “I think our roof integration was very unique at the time, that when the roof is on, it’s a coupé – there’s no giveaway, there’s no extra dividing lines, nothing. And when you take it off it’s an ultra roadster and looks absolutely natural like that. So I think the way we integrated the roof was beyond anything I had seen at the era. And we kind of followed all the years and the different models,” he continued.

Huge power, but emissions compliant

The innovative design extends far beyond car styling. They all had to be road legal, for one thing. “On the first cars, the CC8S, we patented the catalytic converter solutions. Also the twin supercharger solutions with power valves and things for better response and less noise. And actually to be able to homologate a car so powerful, special solutions were needed.

“A few years ago we patented a new catalytic converter solution that integrates with the wastegate so we don’t have too much back pressure. I mean, those are kind of hidden gems that allow us to have higher horsepower than other cars of a similar nature,” von Koenigsegg explained. ), today’s CC850 generates double if you fuel it with E85 gasoline.

“But then you have the more visible things like the LST transmission or the Regera’s direct drive with no gears and three electric motors built into the combustion engine,” he continued.

When you want to row yourself, the CC850 is a six-speed manual.  But push the lever to the right and to D, and it will go through nine gears.
Enlarge / When you want to row yourself, the CC850 is a six-speed manual. But push the lever to the right and to D, and it will go through nine gears.

Koenigsegg

Earlier this year, it unveiled a new in-house electric motor which it says “overhauls the fundamentals of magnetism, materials, cooling and packaging instead of following the norm”, blending aspects of electric motors axial and radial flow. And this, just weeks after the launch of a new 750 kW internal silicon carbide inverter. And then there’s the CC850’s six-speed manual/nine-speed automatic transmission, complete with gated shifter and clutch pedal. And seven claws. (For an excellent, in-depth explanation of how it works, I highly recommend this Engineering Explained video.)

“And the reason we can do this kind of wild mechanical stuff and high voltage stuff is because we control our electronics platform from scratch. We design the circuit boards, we design the full software, we have our own OTA, and we do it throughout the car, so that means we have an idea that sounds good, we’re not blocked by outside vendors who have different strategies or different interests or other priorities; we can control the whole universe ourselves. So, and then I can control Koenigsegg and I can be as stupid as I want with it,” he said with a smile.

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