Swedish Company's Camshaft-free Piston Engine Already Has a Customer

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
swedish company s camshaft free piston engine already has a customer

A Swedish company with close ties to a hard-to-spell supercar maker has thrown a wrench into the automotive world, unveiling a production-ready piston engine that doesn’t use a camshaft.

Developed by FreeValve AB, which isn’t a Nordic Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band, the new engine technology ditches a camshaft for other modes of valve actuation, gaining power and efficiency in the process. Unlike some other touted internal combustion engine advancements, this technology already has a customer.

FreeValve’s invention was revealed by the Koenigsegg sister company earlier this year in Beijing, but we didn’t learn much about its efficiency or applications. Now, the technology appears ready for mass production, with a customer ready to test it. The company recently debuted a driveable vehicle equipped with a production-ready FreeValve engine at the Guangzhou Auto Show.

Chinese automaker Qoros plans to test a fleet of vehicles equipped with a 1.6-liter FreeValve engine, which it dubs the “QamFree” motor. The motor uses pneumatic-hydraulic-electronic actuators instead of a camshaft to control valve movement.

“This results is [sic] much more precise and completely customizable control over valve duration and lift, on both the intake and exhaust sides,” Koenigsegg stated in a press release. “This represents a 47% increase in power, a 45% increase in torque and a 15% reduction in fuel consumption when compared to a traditional camshaft engine with similar specifications.”

Qoros plans to refine the technology before using it in a future production model.

Making a reported 230 horsepower and 236 pounds-feet of torque, the 1.6-liter engine is smaller and lighter than a comparable ICE, with lower production costs. Naturally, the technology could appear in future Koenigsegg vehicles. There’s a chance that other automakers, looking to satisfy both environmental regulators and customers, could tap the technology for efficiency and performance gains. Of course, that’s assuming the Qoros tests go smoothly and the automaker adopts the technology.

Certainly, Christian von Koenigsegg, CEO of Koenigsegg Automotive AB and chairman of FreeValve, wants other automakers to bite. The executive claims the technology could go a long ways towards reducing greenhouse gases by the world’s fleet.

“This will be boosted with the eventual widespread adoption of FreeValve technology in the automotive industry,” he said in a statement.

[Image: Koenigsegg Automotive AB]

Join the conversation
2 of 58 comments
  • Motormouth Motormouth on Nov 28, 2016

    I interviewed Christian Von Koenigsegg sometime around 2009 in his lair/bunker/HQ in Sweden (I think it was in Angelsholm, but not bothered to search it). He showed me the early prototypes of these valves, how they'd reduced the size of each unit over successive generations. The tech was already being tested in an old Saab 900, which I hammered around the test track. I mentioned this only as a pointer to how long this has been in dev, it's not something that they just dreamed up in July. I always remembered checking it out and wondered if it would, one day, make it to market. I reckon it's the real deal and actually could result in something close to the quoted savings.

  • Nichjs Nichjs on Nov 28, 2016

    Should make for some interesting failures on interference engines... Instead of the reliability being in a timing mechanism (very reliable*, particularly if maintained on schedule), you're relying on 8+ individual actuators... *unless you're the tensioner on a BMW 1.6l petrol engine, which grenaded on me @60k miles writing the car off. BMW told me it was a known fault, and that the previous owner had had the "remedial work" completed, thus they were morally exonerated. c0cks. But I'm totally over it.

  • JMII This is why I don't watch NASCAR, it just a crash fest. Normally due the nature of open-wheel cars you don't see such risky behavior during Indy car events. You can't trade paint and bump draft with an Indy car. I thought it was a sad ending for a 500. While everyone wants a green flag finish at some point (3 laps? 5 laps?) red flagging it is just tempting people too much like a reset button in a game.The overall problem is the 500 is not a "normal" race. Many one-off competitors enter it and for almost every driver they are willing to throw away the entire season championship just to win the "500". It sure pays way more then winning the championship. This would be like making a regular season NFL game worth more then the Super Bowl. This encourages risky behavior.I am not sure what the fix is, but Indy's restart procedures have been a mess for years. If I was in charge the rule would be pit speed limiter until the green flag drops at a certain place on the track - like NASCARs restart "zone". Currently the leader can pace the field however they wish and accelerate whenever they choose. This leads to multiple false and jumped starts with no penalty for the behavior. Officals rarely wave off such restarts, but that did happened once on Sunday so they tried to make driver behave. The situation almost didn't happen as there were two strategies in the end with some conserving fuel and running old tires, driving slower with others racing ahead. However the last caution put everyone on even terms so nobody had advantage. It always gets crazy in the last few laps but bunching up the field with a yellow or red flag is just asking for trouble.
  • Tim Healey Lol it's simply that VWVortex is fertile ground for interesting used cars!
  • Jalop1991 I say, install gun racks.Let the games begin!
  • EBFlex For those keeping track, Ford is up to 24 recalls this year and is still leading the industry. But hey, they just build some Super Dutys that are error free. Ford even sent out a self congratulatory press release saying they built Super Duty’s with zero defects. What an accomplishment!
  • Norman Stansfield This is what you get when you run races to keep the cars bunched together for more excitement. F1 doesn't seem to have this problem after the first few laps.