Elon Musk is a man driven by his limits. The man behind electric car maker Tesla, Musk has led the company from its small Silicon Valley startup days to its current status as a $50 billion automaker with a market cap that rivals that of Ford and GM. With each vehicle that Musk releases, Tesla disrupts an industry, and with the next-generation Roadster, the CEO is aiming to create a true halo car.
Christian von Koenigsegg is a man driven by his passion. The man behind the small, exclusive supercar company Koenigsegg, Christian is known for pushing the limits of the vehicles he releases. Koenigsegg might be far smaller than supercar makers like Ferrari and Lamborghini, but the few cars that it makes shake the automotive world. The Koenigsegg Agera RS, for one, currently holds the title as one of the fastest cars in the world after it reached speeds of 278 mph. The Koenigsegg One:1, named for its equal power-to-weight ratio, also packs 1,341 horsepower, or the equivalent of one megawatt of power. Koenigsegg’s cars are so powerful that some of them actually qualify as a hypercar instead of a supercar.
When Christian von Koenigsegg heard the specs of Tesla’s next-generation Roadster, his entire company’s roadmap for the coming years was shaken. In a recent statement to Top Gear, Koenigsegg admitted that his company was completely thrown off course by the listed specs of the all-electric supercar, even admitting that the experience itself was “frustrating.”
“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.’ Sure, it must be really heavy, but that kind of acceleration? That’s frustrating!” he said.
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Christian noted that one of the biggest revelations by the arrival of the next-generation Tesla Roadster was that Elon Musk’s quoted specs for the vehicle were actually possible. In order to respond to the arrival of an electric car designed to deliver a “hardcore smackdown” to gas-powered vehicles, Koenigsegg and his engineers came up with a strategy that would allow one of its cars to give the Roadster some good competition.
“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.’ 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 free-valve engine technology, in a peculiar layout,” he said.
The concept that Koenigsegg and his team came up with is pretty much the fossil fuel-powered counterpart of the next-generation Tesla Roadster — one that is beyond a hypercar, perhaps even a “megacar” of sorts. Christian noted that he was partly annoyed at himself, for “needing a kick in the head to start thinking” about improving his vehicles’ acceleration.
“We’re talking 0-250 mph in 14 seconds, or something like this. It’s like, black marks all the way up to 250 mph (400 kph), pushing the combustion engine into the wall to try to make it more power dense than an EV for as long as possible. What we see with our engines, we’ve noticed that we’re just scratching the surface of what we can achieve,” he said.
Elon Musk threw the gauntlet at legacy automakers when he unveiled the next-generation Tesla Roadster last year, and if Christian von Koenigsegg’s reaction to the vehicle is any indication, it appears that the all-electric supercar is doing precisely what it was intended for — it is forcing automakers to see electric cars as a formidable force, and it is driving them to adapt and come up with ways to make their vehicles even better and faster.
Interestingly, such a sentiment has been echoed by Tesla’s test driver for the next-generation Roadster, Emile Bouret, earlier this year. In a segment with YouTube’s VINwiki channel, Bouret, who drove the all-electric car the whole night during its unveiling, encouraged the auto community to support projects and vehicles like the next-generation Roadster, stating that the existence of such vehicles would affect the auto industry in a positive way as a whole.
“I love that I live in a world where all these cars exist. You have Koenigseggs and Paganis and Ferraris and Lamborghinis and McLarens and Porsches and Rimacs and Teslas. So, I know there’s a lot of hate out there, but I just don’t understand it. If you’re a car person, wouldn’t you root for everybody? I’m definitely rooting for them because the world will be a better place if that car does get built and it gets on the road because other people are gonna build cars to beat it — and we’re gonna win,” he said.
Considering that Koenigsegg appears to have come up with a solution to match the next-gen Roadster, it seems that Buoret’s words are coming true. As the Tesla Roadster and Koenigsegg’s upcoming vehicle are released to the market, the era of megacars could very well begin.