By on June 16, 2016

Koenigsegg Regera NY Auto Show - Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

Considering I’ve driven hundreds of miles to attend music concerts and recently spent Memorial Day driving across three states to buy a guitar not far from Memphis, I suppose driving 600 miles or so to New York on the odd chance that I’d get to interview Christian von Koenigsegg wasn’t actually that odd.

The Koenigsegg car company scheduled a press conference at the New York Auto Show, and I wanted to shake the hand of a man who — along with just a few dozen of his fellow Swedes — managed to show that Ferdinand Piech and the VW empire’s Bugattis aren’t necessarily the biggest BSDs in the automotive world.

Koenigsegg Regera NY Auto Show - Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

Koenigsegg cars genuinely deserve normally overused superlatives like “amazing” and “incredible.” How else would you describe a street-legal passenger car, intended to be a bit softer and luxurious than previous Koenigseggs, with a total of 1,900 horsepower and 1,475 pounds-feet of torque from its combustion engine and electric motors?

Christian isn’t that interested in challenging the Veyron (or new Chiron) for the ultimate speed title for road cars, but he does like to point out the new Regera is the fastest car in the world to 250 miles per hour, and it holds a number of zero to X to zero acceleration and braking records. The man seems to like records. He pointed out that the Regera is the first car with a hidden, retractable, top-mounted rear wing.

The Regera and One:1 have wings that are suspended from cantilevered structures, based on the idea that most of the downforce from the wing is created by its lower surface. Top-mounting the wing allows for unrestricted airflow.

Koenigsegg Regera NY Auto Show - Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

After talking to Koenigsegg, I’m even more convinced that he’s the present-day mad genius of the car world, and I have huge respect for the man. I’m just not sure I can call the company that bears his name an automobile manufacturer.

Koenigsegg Regera NY Auto Show - Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

First, let’s talk about the cars he brought to Manhattan Motorcars’ display of exotics that included the new Spyker Prelator, a Bugatti Veyron (which was getting much less attention during the NYAS media preview than CVK’s cars, proving my point above about who has the bigger BSD — though to be fair, the Veyron is now an older model car), and an almost exotic Lotus Evora.

Koenigsegg Regera NY Auto Show - Source: Ronnie Schreiber / The Truth About Cars

Koenigsegg brought two cars. The “first megacar” in CVK’s words, the One:1. Despite the name, there were actually seven of them built, one prototype and six “production” cars. The name doesn’t mean one of one but rather one to one. It’s the first car built with a 1:1 power to weight ratio when expressed in horsepower/kilograms. It’s also the first car with a megawatt of power, which the internet tells me is 1,341 horsepower.

Koenigsegg One:1 NY Auto Show - Source: Ronnie Schreiber / The Truth About Cars

The One:1 is old news, though. Koenigsegg’s latest is the Regera, Swedish for “reign”. If the ZR1 Corvette is the “king of the hill”, then the Koenigsegg Regera is the emperor of the mountain range.

Koenigsegg One:1 NY Auto Show - Source: Ronnie Schreiber / The Truth About Cars

CVK said the Regera was intended to be “easier to drive” than the Agera and other Koenigseggs. So easy to drive, in fact, that neither the driver nor the car ever has to shift gears. That’s because it has nothing at all like a conventional transmission. The twin turbo 5.0 liter V8  engine is connected almost directly to the final drive, with what sounds like a sophisticated torque converter (designed in-house) between them.

On each output shaft of the final drive is a 250 hp electric motor, which provide motive force and also allow for the implementation of torque vectoring when cornering. Hung on the front of the ICE is another electric motor, this one rated at 200 hp, that is used as a starter motor, an engine assist, and as a generator to recharge the 800 volt, 9.0 kWh liquid cooled battery.

Koenigsegg Regera NY Auto Show - Source: Ronnie Schreiber / The Truth About Cars

Since the power curves of the motors and engine don’t exactly match up, Koenigsegg is simply quoting a total power figure of more than 1,500. With about 600 ft-lbs of torque available from just the electric motors, and all of that torque available at stall, CVK realized that the Regera did not need any kind of gearbox to get it going from a standing start.

What it did need was batteries capable of  525 kW of discharge and up to 200 kW of recharge in a hurry, so the Regera is equipped with the same ultra high performance cells used in Formula One kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS). Up to about 35 miles an hour, it’s running on electric power, at which point the computers phase in the combustion engine. The result is a 0-250 mph time of less than 20 seconds.

Koenigsegg Regera NY Auto Show - Source: Ronnie Schreiber / The Truth About Cars

The Regera doesn’t have any gears (besides in the differential), but it does have two things every exotic car must have: paddles on the steering column. In the case of the Regera, the left paddle activates the regenerative brakes while the right paddle is connected to the trick hydraulic coupling between the engine and rear end. The right paddle allows for some slip in that device, which provides a downshifting like effect to the Regera.

Source: Koenigsegg

Without a transmission there isn’t a reverse gear, so reversing is accomplished courtesy of the electric motors hanging on the rear end.

Source: Koenigsegg

The car can travel on electricity alone for about 30 miles in what CVK bills as “silent mode” so you won’t disturb your neighbors with that twin turbo V8, but CVK pointedly says that it’s not a hybrid. All that tech is not there to save energy but rather to provide the smoothest and fastest “megacar” they can.

It seems like an elegant solution, and I’m tempted to call it simple, but it works because of some very sophisticated computer software that synchronizes all of that hardware.

Koenigsegg Regera NY Auto Show - Source: Ronnie Schreiber / The Truth About Cars

You can read more specifics about the Regera at the company’s website, but I want to address the question as whether or not Koenigsegg is an automobile manufacturer or something closer to a boutique coachbuilder with their own line of cars.

In their entire history, Koenigsegg has produced slightly more than 100 cars. In recent years they’ve been averaging about a dozen cars a year. Sales manager Tariq Ali told me they plan on building about 16 cars in 2016. The Regera has a planned production run of 80 vehicles. You can be sure that at the price point and exclusivity of the Regera, no two of them are going to be identical, so I’m not sure that the concept of a series production car even applies.

IMG_0512

For the sake of argument, even if you want to consider all 80 Regeras to be the same vehicle, can you call Koenigsegg a manufacturer in the same sense that you would the makers of other exotic cars, let alone companies on the scale of Ford or Toyota?

Koenigsegg Regera NY Auto Show - Source: Ronnie Schreiber / The Truth About Cars

To give you some comparison, McLaren built 375 examples of their hybrid P1, and while the P1 wasn’t quite as expensive as the Regera’s $1.9 million starting price, a base P1 was $1.3 million, the same order of magnitude. Porsche built nine hundred and eighteen 918 Spyders. Even the C8 Prelator from the revived Spyker company, on display next to the Koenigseggs at the NYAS, will be produced at a rate of about one a week, not one a month.

It seems to me that Koenigsegg may be more like a coachbuilder with a massive amount of engineering prowess than an industrial manufacturer.

Koenigsegg Regera NY Auto Show - Source: Ronnie Schreiber / The Truth About Cars

Christian Von Koenigsegg and a fan.

To get some perspective, I spoke to George Gaffoglio of Gaffoglio Family Metalcrafters. The California company has produced some of the highest profile concept cars there are, though you’d never know it because they tend to stay in the background. They’re one of less than a dozen shops in the world that can build a completely functional car from scratch that doesn’t look like it’s a prototype. It’s companies like Metalcrafters who make most of the concept cars you see at the autoshows, if they aren’t just styling studio pushmobiles. GM, Ford and Toyota are set up to make cars in the thousands and hundreds of thousands, not to make one-off projects. Most of that work is contracted out.

Koenigsegg Regera NY Auto Show - Source: Ronnie Schreiber / The Truth About Cars

Christian von Koenigsegg told me they currently employ slightly more than 100 people in their factory on the site of a former Swedish air force base. Metalcrafters employs between 120 and 160 people, depending on the work load that year, though some of their work is for the aerospace industry.

As mentioned, Koenigsegg builds about a dozen cars a year. Metalcrafters works on about 100 total automotive projects a year. Some are full customs, others are engineering studies, but they certainly build more than a dozen fully functional cars a year in their shops. Gaffoglio told me that the “million dollar” figure I’ve seen bandied about for the fabrication of a one-off concept car is in the ballpark, depending on the work needed.

Koenigsegg Regera NY Auto Show - Source: Ronnie Schreiber / The Truth About Cars

When I asked him from what he’s seen of cars like Koenigsegg and Pagani, could Metalcrafters do similar fabrication work, he gave the caveat that he only knows what he’s seen at car shows. Then he called them “art on wheels” and said they could probably build something similar for $1.5 to $2 million.

Based on that conversation, I’d say that yes, Koenigsegg is probably closer to a coachbuilding shop than a large industrial automobile manufacture but there is a big difference. That difference isn’t in what they can fabricate, both companies can build to an exception level of quality, but rather what they actually do build. A shop like Metalcrafters or Mike Kleeve’s Automotive Metal Shaping is almost always building somebody else’s ideas. Koenigsegg’s cars spring from the hairless head of Christian von Koenigsegg and his engineers.

One area of expertise that Metalcrafters and Koenigsegg share is working with carbon fiber composite. One large automobile company that has a billion dollar investment in carbon fiber is BMW. Though it costs less than 10 percent of what a Regera costs, the BMW i8 also has both electric motors and a combustion engine and a carbon fiber superstructure, like the Regera.

In our conversation, I suggested to Christian von Koenigsegg that BMW’s i cars get a lot of attention for their use of battery power, but that those cars are more about getting the cost of carbon fiber parts down than they are about electrons. BMW has invested over a billion dollars in a supply chain for carbon fiber that stretches from the Pacific Northwest to Bavaria. Koenigsegg, whose daily driver is a Tesla Model S so he can’t be accused of being opposed to battery power, agreed.

[Images: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars]

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. Thanks for reading – RJS

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36 Comments on “Christian Koenigsegg Is a Genius Who Builds Amazing Cars, But Is Koenigsegg a Real Car Company?...”


  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Is Koenigsegg a real car company?

    Does it matter?

  • avatar

    Those low production tuner carts can’t even HOPE to compete with the Bugatti CHIRON SUPER SPORT.

    Need for Speed (film) made the fanboys think it could, but in reality BUGATTI makes sales figures that make Baron von Koenignigningninseggesesges cry.

    • 0 avatar
      mason

      One would have to have a good amount of seat time in both cars to legitimately come to this conclusion.

      PS4 and Xbox don’t count.

      • 0 avatar

        Guinness records said so.

        • 0 avatar
          THE_F0nz

          You personally are the reason I don’t often read the comments on this website anymore.

          I don’t even want to discuss this fantastic article or ask follow up questions.

          In most cases, you do not continue or add to the discussion given your sole purpose for even being on this website is to post your name in every article so you can drive more traffic to your youtube channel.

          Heaven forbid someone call you out for your comments, because it just prompts cro-magnon comebacks like “BIGGER GOOD. NOT BIG ENOUGH. YOU NOT GOOD, ME RIGHT. MORE HELLCAT. YES. ONLY FASTER CAR BETTER. ONLY MORE MONEY BETTER. YES. BIG GOOD. I RIGHT. I HAVE LOTS MONEY. ROLLING ON HELLCAT.”

          Just so you know: Your attempt at being human click bait has not once gotten me to visit your youtube channel. Honestly, I cannot believe TTAC allows you to advertise it in your profile name like that.

          • 0 avatar
            mason

            Gotta love equal opportunity employment.

            Seriously, no where else could he succeed for a New York minute.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    He builds them , people buy them and get get plates for them, and they have his name on them so I say yes they are a real car company.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      That’s the key difference. Metalcrafters builds prototypes. Koenigsegg builds street-legal, emissions-compliant, crash-tested road cars that you can actually register.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I’m way more interested in his engine and propulsion tech than his supercars. A camless engine is way more relevant to me than a 2 million dollar land rocket.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I suppose your description using the term ‘coachbuilder’ is appropriate.

    It’s amusing that he drives a Tesla. Musk used to drive an Audi, I think.

    For comparison, Tesla is building about 200 cars a day at the moment, ramping up to beyond 1300 in a couple years….

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      He is actually not a coachbuilder. The classic ‘coachbuilder’ is someone who takes a rolling chassis from someone else, let’s say “Ford” for example, and then builds a bold ontop of the frame to spec for a customer.

      They do not build powertrains which clearly, Koeniggegg does.

      To my mind, there are possibly only four mainstream ‘megacar’ builders… that is McLaren, Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini.

      There are two boutique builders, that is Koeniggegg and Pagani.

      They do not often compete at the same level, in this case its Lamborghini.

      All the others arent on the radar. Oh and there’s dogcrap and below that is Hennessey.

      I dont think the Bugatti bares comparison to these cars and their companies.

      Bugatti builds something but its not at all comparable. And its something thats not attactive to many, including myself.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Asking this question results in a nearly completely circular epistemological goose chase, as the answer depends on a very non-standardized definition, built upon a relatively large number of variables.

    I tend to view a manufacturer as someone or a company that possesses the requisite knowledge and skill to design/engineer and fabricate everything needed to assemble a final product in-house, and then goes ahead and assembles that final product – at least more often than not (though they sometimes subcontract other firms to do assembly).

    The close an person or company possesses these abilities (to do all of these things in-house), the closer they are to a “manufacturer,” at least in the traditional, historical sense of that word, in my opinion.

  • avatar
    raph

    I don’t know about genius but Koenigsegg sure does have a,knack for spotting and applying some fairly advanced ( for an automobile ) technology. I’d think primarily due to the size of his company.

    The generator/starter/motor idea has been around for awhile but the need to covert mass produced cars to a 24v system ( same with a cam-less engine ) is a major stumbling block where everybody is entrenched in the 12v world.

  • avatar
    The Doctor

    Could someone tell me why Koenigsegg is so innovative?

    The way that they make everything out of pre-preg carbon fibre is lovely but irrelevant once you’re looking to make more than a hundred cars a year. The average takt time for any sort of CFRP panel will be a couple of hours at best (more if it needs structural load spreaders) compared to an average of about 120 seconds for mass production. In this space, the innovation is coming from BMW and McLaren and their use of RTM carbon fibre.

    The only other bits of Koenigsegg “innovation” I can think of are their Triplex suspension (snigger), 3D printed parts (currently only used for trinkets around the exhaust), Freevalve (if this ever reaches a production car I’ll eat my head) and the Regera’s transmission system.

    I suppose the latter is “innovative” but that’s only because nobody else has used it before, and with good reason.

    • 0 avatar
      clkimmel

      Because he is not trying to engineer a mass produced product?

      • 0 avatar
        The Doctor

        I suppose that puts him in the same category as the horologists that make mechanical watches that will chime the opening notes of Smack My Bitch Up (or whatever they do these days) – very endearing, but not something I’d heap buckets of praise on them for.

        Even on that point, I don’t think there’s anything particularly innovative about Koenigsegg’s cars. The basic structure hasn’t changed that much since the original one – a CFRP tub with tubular subframes at each end. The carbon fibre wheels, 3D printed exhaust and dihedral synchro-helix door are all just garnish.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      I’m a lot more impressed with the Accord hybrid transmission. Mr. K is innovative in the way that throwing money at problems because high cost becomes a desirable attribute eventually. I’m very glad his cars exist, but rolling art is both a compliment and a condemnation.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I guess I’ll have to wait for the civil asset forfeiture.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “The result is a 0-250 mph time of less than 20 seconds.”

    :-O

    I can’t imagine how that’d feel.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I thought he had given up on Spyker, and actually failed to purchase it?
    And wasn’t Spyker (before that) attempting to purchase Saab?

    My timeline is fuzzy on both of those.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Koenigsegg bid on Saab, but withdrew their offer once they saw GM’s conditions.

      Spyker (or their parent company) purchased Saab from GM, but had to close-up the company once they realized that GM would not allow any additional capital to be invested. Basically, GM could (and did) veto any change in ownership structure, which meant that no new money could be brought-in.

      The current owner of Saab (now called NEVS) is free of GM servitude. They are developing cars for the Chinese market. They may announce a new model this year.

      Ironically, GM could really use a credible “premium” brand in their portfolio. They have a minimal presence in the US (Cadillac sells less than Acura), and none at all in the rest of the world. Meanwhile, everyone else is making a mint from mid-sized turbocharged premium sedans and crossovers based on FWD architectures.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Also I notice that pristine Volvo P1800 up there, and the Buick Tri-Shield with color (yay!).

  • avatar
    mcs

    Question answered.

    Title 15 U.S. Code § 1221:

    (a) The term “automobile manufacturer” shall mean any person, partnership, corporation, association, or other form of business enterprise engaged in the manufacturing or assembling of passenger cars, trucks, or station wagons, including any person, partnership, or corporation which acts for and is under the control of such manufacturer or assembler in connection with the distribution of said automotive vehicles.

    From NHTSA:
    https://vpic.nhtsa.dot.gov/mid/manufacturer/details/1344

    Okay, there’s something really screwed up here. I think the article was really great with one exception. Why discuss such an inane point about whether this is an auto manufacturer or not? This is where Mark should have stepped in and maybe shifted the articles focus to the drivetrain or other areas.

  • avatar
    Jasper2

    K-man, the alleged “genius” took the precious time that SAAB had left to recover from GM’s mismanagement promising to restart the company. When SAAB was past the point of no return, the alleged “genius” walked away from the deal. At that point SAAB still had engineers and it’s infrastructure was pretty much still in place. SAAB lost precious time because of this alleged “genius”. After the alleged “genius” left the scene, the Dutch company SPYKER purchased SAAB and made quite a valiant attempt to bring SAAB back, but failed. I think mostly because the alleged “genius” wasted SAAB’s time at a critical point in it’s history. Now it is lost forever to a company called NEVS. This is sort of like a guy who takes the best years of a girl’s life then doesn’t marry her. That’s not a “genius”. That is something else.

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