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Pebble Beach 2018

The Tesla Roadster forced Koenigsegg to up its game

Upon hearing the acceleration figures for the Tesla, CvK got to work

Published: 31 Aug 2018

Upon hearing the news that Tesla would build a new Roadster, and this new Roadster would be able to accelerate from 0-60mph in 1.9s, the world reacted. Even Koenigsegg boss Christian.

“We kind of had our future mapped out, and then we heard about the new Tesla Roadster and its insane acceleration numbers, and we thought ‘damn that’s put the gauntlet down’.”

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Christian von Koenigsegg smiles, and then mocks anger. “Sure, it must be really heavy, but that kind of acceleration? That’s frustrating!”

You’d have thought a man who owns a company that built the (current) world’s fastest car and regularly pumps out cars that destroy drag strips, wouldn’t get frustrated by a little electric roadster. But it did.

“We thought, ‘this is not OK’. We wondered whether it was possible, and yeah, it’s possible. Then we thought, ‘OK how do we deal with it? This is embarrassing.’”

So he whipped up his engineers straight into the workshop and got the calculator out. “In two days we’d thought of a few things,” he said. “The simplest way of putting it is like this: it’s combining direct drive, with the hybridisation we have in a different format with freevalve engine technology, in a peculiar layout.”

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Though Christian got annoyed – at himself – for “needing a kick in the head to start thinking” about improving acceleration, the solution he found is just… wild. “We’re talking 0-250mph in 14 seconds, or something like this. It’s like, black marks all the way up to 250mph (400kmh).”

Yowser. But it points to Koenigsegg’s obsession with – as he says – “pushing the combustion engine into the wall to try to make it more power dense than an EV for as long as possible”. He’s all about the noise, and experience of internal combustion, and he’s only just getting started.

“What we see with our engines, we’ve noticed that we’re just scratching the surface of what we can achieve.

“Here’s an example: if we ignore fuel consumption for a moment… we have a fairly high compression ratio for our turbo V8 – 9.5 to 1 with 1.6 bar of boost. If we drop that to 8.8 to 1, we could boost to 2.2 bar, which is another 600bhp just like that, without putting more stress on your engine because your peak pressure doesn’t go up.

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“And it would only consume about five per cent more fuel,” he adds.

The future is going to get mighty fast indeed.

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