Christian von Koenigsegg
"The Gemera has a unique powertrain, never seen before"
We spoke with Christian von Koenigsegg about the new Koenigsegg Gemera and how it would pave the future of CO2-neutral long-range travel with its Tiny Friendly Giant (TFG for short) based propulsion system. Christian also looks at the bigger picture of second-generation (Gen 2.0) biofuels and why electric vehicles may not be the only answer to reducing carbon footprint.
Why the name “Gemera”?
The Gemera is a combination of the two Swedish words “ge” and “mera”. “Ge” means give and “mera” means more. When conveyed in English, it signifies “to give more”.
What do you mean by “to give more”?
My passion is to create extraordinary, inventive, and if possible, better cars than what is out there today. So, “to give more” than you otherwise could find on the market or in the segment is what I strive for.
It is also about giving back. Yes, the Gemera is a very expensive vehicle by all measures, but its sheer existence showcases and implies industries-pioneering “world-saving” technologies, that would otherwise have a hard time reaching the mainstream market.
The Gemera proves a point and gives purpose, thus paving the way for innovative and “green” technology to be adapted in other vehicles, such as normal passenger cars, boats and even airplanes.
What is this “world-saving” technology you refer to?
I am mainly referring to the Koenigsegg Tiny Friendly Giant motor, or the TFG for short. It is extremely powerful, tractable and fuel-efficient. At the same time, it can run on C02-neutral fuels. Regardless of the fuel source, it has very clean emissions. In simple words, it is a game-changer.
I’m a fan of pure electric cars. In most ways, they are better than the cars they have replaced. Especially when it comes to smaller, commuter cars, where battery packs are light, small and have not taken much resources to create.
The sensation of driving a pure EV beats the sensation of driving most traditional cars with combustion engines. The only real downside I would say is that they are substantially heavier and relatively slower to charge when you go on road trips.
There is no doubt that EVs are here to stay. Especially, smaller EVs with small battery packs for city use and short commutes. They are already today very acceptable when it comes to weight, packaging, charging and from a natural resource perspective. Do you see any downsides with EVs? For long-range cars, the batteries are large, resource intense and heavy. Heavier batteries create more rolling resistance, plus the battery has the same weight full or empty, so there is no weight improvement along the way to the next charging point. There needs to be a massive deployment of fast-charging stations along all major routes and this takes resources and time to create, especially if everyone would go EV soon.
What could be a better solution then?
Is there a better solution for long-range cars? One with fewer compromises from every, if not most aspects? I believe there is.
Just imagine. What if existing fueling infrastructure could cheaply be revamped to CO2-neutral filling stations? What if long-range cars could have very small battery packs, combined with super small, clean and efficient CO2-neutral combustion engines? What if the usage of the cars results in virtually zero local and global emissions and their weight becomes 500 kg lighter than the equivalent EV and still offers more interior space? Wouldn’t that be interesting?
I would say, yes!
And the first car to offer all these will be the new Koenigsegg Gemera?
Yes. The first car in the world to offer this solution is the Gemera. It has a unique powertrain never seen before. It is combined with the patented Koenigsegg Direct Drive (KDD) solution that has been successfully proven in the Koenigsegg Regera. It has a new revolutionary engine developed by Koenigsegg and its sister company Freevalve, called the Tiny Friendly Giant, or TFG for short. As the name clearly conveys, it’s an engine that can produce massive power in a very compact package, with virtually no environmental impact – the friendly part.
The TFG also gives a lighter, more efficient cradle-to-grave solution than a long-range EV. It uses next-generation combustion technology designed for next-generation renewable liquid fuel, combined with a small battery for plug-in electrification.
The Gemera, when plugged in and filled up with Gen 2.0 ethanol, in the form of alternative CO2-neutral (renewable) methanol like Vulcanol, alternative Photofuel or any mix thereof, becomes at least as CO2-neutral as an EV running on renewable electric sources such as solar or wind.
Resource wise, running the Gemera on renewable plug-in electricity and E85 fuel (that is relatively easy to find today) is comparable to an EV running on a relatively good mix of electrical sources – definitely not worse.
Is it possible to find second-generation biofuel or Photofuel already today? Second-generation biofuels are great because they are derived from forest or agricultural waste as well as dedicated non-food energy crops or even from solar sources, so they don’t take from resources that are needed for food supply.
It is however presently, not easy – or let’s say near impossible – to find 100% Gen 2.0 ethanol, Photofuel or Vulcanol at the average gas station, at least if you’re not in Brazil or at a progressive fuel station. If you find it, it is mixed in with petrol or diesel in small amounts.
That’s not the point though. The point is that it works, and it is a viable solution going forward. Also, the “charging” infrastructure is already built. You only need to change the content at the pumps and change the sign! Ethanol, Methanol, Photofuel, Butanol – you name it, the TFG will run on it in any mixture. Basically, the TFG is fuel agnostic. The best local blend can be chosen to further reduce the carbon footprint of fuel transportation.
People may argue that the present-day production of Gen 2.0 biofuels is not enough to fulfill all automotive needs. Again, that’s not the point. The point is that with next-generation combustion engines, like the TFG, especially when combined with small battery electrification, you need very little biofuel compared to today’s engines. You’re looking at around half to one-third of the needed fuel for the same range. Therefore, even a much lower volume of liquid fuel will fulfill the same needs as today’s much larger volumes.
Let’s consider the journey of a hybrid. Most shorter trips can be made driving in pure electric mode. But as your trips get longer, the car will consume more and more biofuel compared to electricity.
For even longer journeys, you will run out of electric range and eventually need to fill up with more biofuel before being able to charge with electricity again at your destination.
But think about it. If petrol cars were replaced by TFG hybrid technology, the volume needed for liquid fuel would be around a third compared to now, even if biofuels have less energy content given the same volume. That is all that is needed to be replaced – not the volume of fuel we use today.
Given the production ramp-up curve of Gen 2.0 biofuels – there is no question in my mind that supply will keep up with demand, as it will take a while for all mid to long-range cars to be replaced. Still, this transition could be quicker, leaner, less resource-intense and have a lower carbon footprint than just having long-range EVs as the one and only solution.
But won’t full EVs also improve?
Of course. If somehow – magically – battery packs shrink in weight and size to less than half of what they are today. But how far away is that? Is it prudent to just wait for it? When will it happen? What will that kind of tech cost? Perhaps it makes sense to have a parallel path, including one that already works and that gives no less benefit than what is just a dream right now. Why not bet on both?
What are the true benefits of the Tiny Friendly Giant motor?
It’s no bigger than a carry-on airline suitcase and weighs around 70 kg. In normally aspirated form, it gives 300 bhp and 250 Nm of torque and that’s plenty for most applications! Add a turbo or two to the equation and you have 600 bhp with 600 Nm of torque. It’s a virtual bombshell of a power plant.
By adding extreme catalytic converters and particle filters, local emissions is close to pure water steam and likely to contain less toxins than the surrounding air in polluted areas; as the TFG burns the particles in the air and cleanses the gases in its after-treatment systems.
The Koenigsegg TFG motor is designed to be super-efficient, CO2-neutral, give exceptionally low emissions and be able to be packaged in super small spaces. Any upcoming and foreseeable emission regulation is going to be an easy match for the TFG.
We actually did not design it to meet certain legislation – we designed it to be ultimately clean and efficient. How would you further improve performance? The internal combustion engine (ICE) has evolved so much over the past 100 years that most of us take its complexity and everyday importance for granted.
When you consider the complexity of achieving maximum performance, efficiency, reliability and safety with minimum fuel consumption, emission, size and cost – you start to understand how many variables are at play.
Adding the Freevalve system to the mix makes it possible for the ICE to reach new heights. That system creates many more variables to consider and tune for – making it virtually impossible for humans to tune it to reach optimum results – unless AI is thrown into the mix.
Just to name some of the obvious, consider NOx, CO2 emissions, fuel consumption, HC/NMOG, power and torque, all competing for priority in a particular cycle. Add fuel types, lubricants, temperatures, component wear and tear, alongside Freevalve liberation, and you get the bigger picture.
Given this situation, we decided to let AI “loose” in order to optimize different drive cycles, different fuel types with endless options under varying driving conditions such as track driving, highway driving, daily start-stop scenarios, and more.
We have chosen to partner with SparkCognition, the world’s leading AI experts, to leverage this opportunity, the result of which will deliver a quantum leap in ICE evolution that is beyond imagination.
The ultimate ambition? A CO2-neutral ICE – cleaning the surrounding air – running on pure next-generation biofuels enabling unparalleled vehicle range. How about that!
That’s why we named our new ICE the Tiny Friendly Giant – or TFG for short.
Can it run on normal petrol as well?
Yes, apart from today’s E85 the TFG can run on normal petrol as well – if needed. This might happen a lot more – unfortunately – in the beginning. However, on a level plane with EVs, as it’s the same “problem” or “possibility” for EVs running on coal plant-based electric sources instead of renewable sources such as solar or wind power. This also happens today.
As a remedy to this short-term problem, the Koenigsegg navigation system clearly points out all E85 stations available for refueling and we will add pure biofuel stations to the mix when they come online. We consider E85 to be drastically better than petrol from a CO2 perspective. Plus, the Gemera can come with a prescription-based home filling station, where permitted, of CO2-neutral fuel that is available in the particular market the car is in. This already allows the Gemera customers to run on 100% CO2-neutral fuel from the get-go, especially if they have solar panels feeding the electrical charging.
The Gemera was created to show the world that it is possible to take important steps into the direction of lowering our carbon footprint and that pure long-range EVs are not the only answer. It’s perhaps not even the best answer or solution for longer-range cars at all.
Will the 300 Gemeras really make a difference?
The 300 Gemeras themselves will not save the planet directly, but they will serve as a platform for us to develop and share this technology – to make it visible, to open people’s eyes to what is out there already today. It is important to act now. We thank our customers and car owners who want to join us on this journey.
Finally – do you have any other favorite features of the car?
It doesn’t hurt that the Gemera sounds amazing! The Gemera can run silently at night, but mainly it celebrates sound – the noise – and what a noise it makes from the custom titanium Akrapovic exhausts.
I dare to say that no three-cylinder engine before it has ever sounded so good! The Freevalve system gives lag-free response and the throaty sound from the throttleless intake is truly seductive. The very large bore and stroke make sure the engine does not sound “small”. What you get is a deep, throaty, responsive and alluring sounding engine, perfectly fitting the Koenigsegg Gemera.