At Koenigsegg, internal combustion is still king

The Koenigsegg Jesko is the Swedish supercar manufacturer’s latest and most outrageous vehicle. It has a 5.1-liter, flat-cranked V8 that spins at 8,500 rpm, two turbochargers and develops 1,600 horsepower on E85. It’s connected to a revolutionary nine-speed transmission that will immediately downshift to the lowest possible gear when you want full acceleration without waiting.

But it’s not the most exciting drivetrain technology Koenigsegg is working on.

By now you’ve probably heard of Freevalve, Koenigsegg’s design for a camshaftless piston engine with infinitely variable valve timing. So far we’ve seen it implemented on the Tiny Friendly Giant, a 2.0-liter twin-turbo three-cylinder engine that puts out an almost incredible 600 horsepower.

Christian von Koenigsegg

Mate Petrány

This engine is expected to debut in the Koenigsegg Gemera, a four-seater hybrid performance car. It turns out that the Gemera was originally planned to use a naturally aspirated V-8 with Freevalve. So, during our extensive interview, I asked founder Christian von Koenigsegg what led to the change of Gemera.

“The three-cylinder Freevalve concept was something I had in my head, dreamed of for about 10 years – to have this super compact little monster, capable of renewable fuel from an engine that can replace many engines. bigger. Von said Koenigsegg. (By “renewable” it refers to the engine’s ability to run on ethanol derived from plant material.)

Von Koenigsegg explained that at the start of Gemera’s development he wanted to use a naturally aspirated V-8 with hybrid electrification. “Removing the turbos, increasing the compression and tuning the intake have very little effect on emissions because the turbos do not cool the exhaust gases before the catalytic converters,” said von Koenigsegg . “In my mind, the N / A V-8 is quite possible, and if you then put Freevalve on it, it’s a walk in the park. But even with camshafts, it’s definitely possible.”

koenigsegg piston
One of the lightweight and uniquely shaped pistons that will fit in a Koenigsegg V-8.

Mate Petrány

It has yet to build a V-8 equipped with Freevalves. “We have refined and refined the V-8 over so many years,” he said. “Every time we’ve thought about removing the camshafts, we’ve noticed that we already have the horsepower we want, we have the emissions we want, and it works. It’s reliable, a known entity. So we left it for that reason, even though we know we could cut fuel, emissions, and have more torque and horsepower if we switch up. It’s still lurking around the corner. “

In addition, the V-8 presented challenges in the four-seater Gemera. “We had this package, but we realized we were infringing on the interior space a little more than I wanted,” he said. “We were fighting to make it work, to get back to the idea of ​​the three cylinder. We started racing it and it all started to fall into place. Then we really started pushing for the development of this engine. , and of course we were doing it primarily for the Gemera, but now we also see other opportunities for this engine. “

What kind of opportunities? Von Koenigsegg envisions the Tiny Friendly Giant in “configurations for cars, boats, airplanes. You can have a super compact renewable thing … where it’s hard to do electrification, like in aviation for example. Less associated at speed, so if you could use renewable fuels in a compact package, that’s great for those applications. ”

koenigsegg jesko
Christian von Koenigsegg examines a Jesko hypercar.

Mate Petrány

For now, Koenigsegg will continue with its two flex-fuel internal combustion engines, the V-8 and the three-cylinder TFG, associated with different levels of hybrid electrification. Christian von Koenigsegg believes he can keep this combination while meeting the increasingly stringent environmental requirements of the near future.

“I think it would be a mistake on the part of mankind to ban CO2 neutral, near zero emission engines that run on renewable fuels for certain applications,” he said. “Especially at low volume [production vehicles], because they have absolutely no impact on the environment, or on greenhouse gas emissions for that matter, if they are CO2 neutral. Of course, these combustion-engined hyper and megacars would have to run on renewable fuels, and then they will have no impact on the environment. It would be exciting for them to be allowed to exist, and I hope the world is sane enough to see it. We’re trying to make internal combustion a lot better for the environment, and I think it’s better than just ignoring it. “

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Kevin A. Perras