Thursday, February 9, 2012

Koenigsegg to Deliver First U.S. Agera in June, Working on Camless Engine

Koenigsegg to Deliver First U.S. Agera in June, Working on Camless Engine:

Koenigsegg expects to deliver its first Agera to the U.S. this June, more than two years after the 940-hp supercar was introduced, according to a company executive.

Bags of Air and “Financial Hardship”

The Swedish automaker is awaiting approval for a second exemption from federal regulations requiring smart airbags, the same exemption the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration denied last year to Pagani. (Smart airbags require weight sensors in the front passenger seat to detect children, and can deploy the bags at varying speeds depending on the crash situation.) Lotus stopped importing the Elise and Exige to the U.S.—and Tesla, as a result, had to stop building Roadsters—because its exemption ran out.

Among other things, the feds consider proof of “substantial economic hardship” when deciding on safety exemptions for low-volume, independent automakers like Koenigsegg. Surprisingly, Ferrari, owned by the Fiat Group, and Lamborghini, under the Volkswagen Group, have also cited “hardship” within the last three years as a reason for not adding newer airbags. Next to Koenigsegg, which hand-builds only 15 cars per year in an airport hangar, Ferrari and Lamborghini look like General Motors and Chrysler.

According to NHTSA, Koenigsegg said that it lost $7.7 million between 2006 and 2008, and had projected an additional $3.3 million loss between 2009, when the current exemption expired, and 2011. Oddly enough, until NHTSA makes a new decision, the expired exemption still stands.

CEO Christian Von Koenigsegg, in a letter to the Department of Transportation last May, stated the obvious to our Impala-driving bureaucrats: “The Koenigsegg vehicle—a $1.32 million ultra high performance sports car—is simply not typically used to carry child seats or small children.” (Koenigsegg owners can buy the 230-mph Brabus Rocket for just that purpose.)

If Koenigsegg does get the airbag waiver, the lucky U.S. customer will hold the keys—actually, a heavy metal fob shaped like the Koenigsegg shield—to car number 92, the first new Koenigsegg built for the U.S. market since 2008, according to the company and NHTSA filings. And if exotic-car forum rumblings are true, the car will be a white Agera R, an even faster version with a claimed 273-mph top speed when running on E85.

Car 100, A Camless Engine?

Koenigsegg says it will show a rendering of its 100th car at next month’s Geneva auto show. The automaker will commission the milestone car itself instead of building to customer order, as it normally does.

The next few years look even wilder. Koenigsegg is in the process of modifying its twin-turbo V-8 to run without camshafts, a radical departure in engine design that will increase fuel economy between 20 and 30 percent by using pneumatic-controlled valves, according to the company. F1 cars use similar pneumatic valvetrain systems. Koenigsegg’s work on a camless engine was first reported in 2009 by Auto Motor und Sport.

The technology provides exacting control of each cylinder and would allow for infinitely variable valve lift and duration, as well as cylinder deactivation. Energy to operate the valves also would be reduced compared to a conventional cammed engine. Many companies, including Bosch and French automotive supplier Valeo, are experimenting with electrohydraulic and electromagnetic actuators. Instead, Koenigsegg is working with Cargine Engineering in Sweden to develop a high-pressure pneumatic system. Cost is obviously not an issue, but reliability and valve noise are true hurdles and may take years to overcome.

If Koenigsegg can stoke even more heat from its flame-spitting engines, we’ll gladly wait. For newer airbags, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...