It would be mixing up advertising campaigns, if not metaphors, to say that the Swedes think differently about design, but I think there is something to it: Saab is famous for leaving the field, even to the point where he placed the ignition switch; Volvo carefully follows its own path, keeping safety in the first place, but with a clean, modern design. And then there’s Koenigsegg.
Located in a former Swedish fighter base, the company makes its way through automotive superlatives: supercars, hypercars, now megascars. 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 gearbox, both a nine-speed automatic and a six-speed manual, with a clutch pedal no less?
At this year’s Monterey Auto Week, few are as close to the automotive aristocracy 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 his attention, or maybe just another look at his latest creation, the CC850. Partly a birthday present for him on his 50th birthday, partly a celebration of the company’s entry into its third decade, it is a new take on Koenigsegg’s first offering, the CC8S.
It started with the door
“We started trying to innovate from the very beginning because I didn’t believe we could only survive by doing what everyone else was doing, because I always felt the need to bring something new to the table to make it worthwhile, profitable and interesting. And we’ve just been doing it for years. And we got away with it all the time. So we just got wilder and wilder in making our ideas or wild dreams come true, “von Koenigsegg told me.
For example, the characteristic door. The dramatic door opening is almost mandatory unless your name is Ferrari or Porsche and the CCS8 door actually opened dramatically, popping out and then turning 90 degrees. “The hinge that we invented very early on and then robotized it is very practical; clears all space and does not extend too far. So compared to the other solutions, I think it’s a great way to do it, “he said.
Koenigsegg also pointed to the roof of the convertible on the CC8S. “I think our roof integration was very special back then, when the roof is in, this is a coupe – no giveaway, no extra dividing lines, nothing. And when you take it off it’s an ultra roadster and it looks completely natural that way. So I think the way we integrated the roof was beyond anything I saw at the time. And in a way, we’ve kept up with all these years and different models, ”he continued.
Huge power, but in line with the emissions
The innovative design, however, goes far beyond the design of the cars. First, they all had to be legal. “In the early CC8S cars, we patented catalyst solutions. Also, two compressor solutions with supply valves and other components for better response and lower noise levels. Indeed, the approval of such a powerful car required special solutions.
“A few years ago, we patented a new catalyst that integrates with the wastegate, so we don’t have too much back pressure. I mean, these are the kinds of hidden gems that allow us to have more power than other similar nature cars, ”explained von Koenigsegg. The huge power output is a Koenigsegg affair – in 2002 the CC8S was 655hp (488kW), and today’s CC850 produces twice the amount of E85 gasoline.
“But there are also more visible things like the LST transmission or the Reger direct drive without a gearbox and three electric motors integrated into the internal combustion engine,” he continued.
Earlier this year, a new proprietary electric motor was unveiled which, he says, “looks at the basics of magnetism, materials, cooling and packaging instead of complying with the standard,” mixing aspects of both axial flux and radial flux electric motors. And that was just a few weeks after the debut of a new, proprietary 750 kW silicon carbide inverter. The CC850 also has a six-speed manual / nine-speed automatic gearbox, equipped with a gearshift gate and clutch pedal. And seven claws. (For a great and in-depth explanation of how it works, I highly recommend this engineering explanation video.)
“And the reason we can do this kind of wild mechanical stuff and high voltage stuff is because we control our electronic platform from scratch. We design PCBs, we design full stack software, we have our own OTA and do it all over the car. This means that we come up with an idea that seems interesting. We are not blocked by external suppliers who have different strategies, interests or other priorities; we can control the entire universe ourselves. then I can control Koenigsegg and I can be as stupid with it as I want – he said with a smile.