Tesla's Roadster prompts Koenigsegg to rethink its supercars

It's reworking engines to remain competitive with the future EV.

Did you suspect that supercar manufacturers would be nervous when Tesla vowed that its next-gen Roadster would deliver a "hardcore smackdown" to gas-powered performance cars? Your hunch was well-founded. In a chat with Top Gear, Koenigsegg's namesake founder Christian von Koenigsegg revealed that his company started reworking its engines just to remain competitive with the Roadster's vaunted 1.9-second 0-60MPH time. "This is embarrassing," he said.

The Swedish brand is sticking to its hybrid engine approach, but it's relying on a "peculiar layout" that melded its existing hybrid engine system with direct drive and freevalve (that is, camless) tech. Christian also noted that his company could tweak the compression ratio of a turbo V8 to add another 600HP "just like that" without pushing the engine past the breaking point. In theory, this delivers 250MPH in 14 seconds.

It's not certain when you'll see this kind of output from a Koenigsegg machine, although there have been rumors of a "Ragnarok" model with a large jump in horsepower. It won't be surprising if other supercar makers have been making similar moves, mind you. Gas-based cars still tend to have advantages in sustained performance and top speed over the fastest EVs, but that edge could disappear if the Roadster lives up to its billing. Conventional companies might not have much choice but to rethink their strategies if they want to maintain their bragging rights, especially when it comes to horsepower-obsessed makes like Koenigsegg.