Christian von Koenigsegg Admits Tesla Roadster Caught Him Off Guard

Not to worry, though—the Swede’s already got a plan to fight back.

byJames Gilboy|
Electric Vehicles photo

Nobody was prepared when Tesla announced the return of its Roadster sports car last November, least of all the hyper-performance mastermind Christian von Koenigsegg.

"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,'" Koenigsegg told Top Gear. "We thought, 'this is not okay.'"

Koenigsegg immediately put his engineers to work to figure out if what Elon Musk claimed the Tesla Roadster could do—0 to 60 in 1.9 seconds, the standing quarter mile in 8.9, and a top speed above 250 mph—were even feasible. As it turns out, the surprising lack of skeptical response to Musk's purported performance figures was not without reason.

"We wondered whether it was possible, and yeah, it's possible," continued Koenigsegg to TG. "Then we thought, 'okay how do we deal with it? This is embarrassing.' In two days we'd thought of a few things. The simplest way of putting it is like this: It's combining direct drive with the hybridization we have in a different format with Freevalve engine technology, in a peculiar layout."

Koenigsegg used direct drive and hybridization on its first hybrid hypercar, the limited-run Regera. His company's re-imagination of the Regera's drivetrain allows it to produce a competitor to the Tesla Roadster that legitimately rivals its performance.

"We're talking 0 to 250 mph in 14 seconds or something like this. It's like, black marks all the way up to 250 mph," Koenigsegg stated.

Of course, that's Koenigsegg finding a way to rival the base model Tesla Roadster, while Musk has (possibly tongue-in-cheek) spoken of a potentially faster version, maybe even with SpaceX-derived rocket propulsion. But Koenigsegg has an answer for that too.

"What we see with our engines, we've noticed that we're just scratching the surface of what we can achieve," he added. Koenigsegg explains that if his company's V8 engine, turbocharged to 23 psi of boost and had its compression ratio reduced from 9.5:1 to 8.8:1, they could feed 32 psi of boost in for an instant 600 extra horsepower. That comes without significant effect on reliability (peak cylinder pressure wouldn't rise) and only five percent greater fuel consumption...when not at full throttle.

Here's to hoping we don't have to wait long to see any of this tech in action. Ideally, as part of Koenigsegg's possible 2020 entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans

How about it, Christian?