• If You Think Making a Koenigsegg Road Legal Is Easy, Think Again!

This is the biggest hurdle you must pass if you dream of establishing your own supercar-making company

LISTEN 06:32

Koenigsegg, the Swedish motley crew responsible for some of the world’s fastest road-legal hypercars, is at the forefront of automotive development with its Regera plug-in hybrid and the 240+ mph Jesko that features a nine-speed, seven-clutch transmission. While all this tech took time and a lot of money to develop, the bulk of Koenigsegg’s resources are actually spent during the homologation process and here’s why.

Homologation makes life difficult for any new company

If You Think Making a Koenigsegg Road Legal Is Easy, Think Again!
- image 897109

Nobody will care that the car you’ve just created is the fastest in the world if you can’t drive it around Monaco or L.A. or just about any other place in the world. To be able to register a car, you must first homologate it which means going down a seemingly endless rabbit hole filled with a plethora of requirements, mostly aimed at volume manufacturers with thousands of people on their payroll. But Koenigsegg isn’t a big manufacturer, employing about 200 people in all, and it doesn’t sell hundreds of thousands of cars every year either but lawmakers pretty much see things in black and white.

When Christian von Koenigsegg was first starting out in the automotive world some 20 years ago, the first prototype of what would become the CC8S also had to be used for a variety of crash tests because the company didn’t have the funds to build a second chassis solely to use it for crash testing. Thus, the CC prototype was battered quite a bit and, in hindsight, von Koenigsegg considers he was a bit lucky in this regard.

If You Think Making a Koenigsegg Road Legal Is Easy, Think Again!
- image 897110
While nowadays, Koenigsegg spends about 60% of its R&D budget to make sure each Koenigsegg passes all the necessary safety requirements, the homologation rules weren't as stringent back then in the year 2000 and it helped the company to avoid tanking financially.

Considering this, he points out that "it means that for any other start-up sports car company, if they’re not backed by a huge corporation or by really, really wealthy long-term investors, it’s almost impossible [to fulfill all the requirements]."

What sort of requirements is he talking about? Well, for starters, as Koenigsegg’s Homologation Manager David Tugas underlines, the specifics can vary depending on the country you’re trying to get your car homologated for.

Most European countries have agreed to the same ruleset comprising some 64 requirements but if you want to branch out to the North American market you must do other, completely different tests. The requirements can be divided into three areas, Tugas says, talking about active safety - all the systems designed to keep you from having a crash, passive safety, the systems that keep you safe during the crash, and emissions-related regulations that, as we know, have gotten tougher and tougher in the past 50 years.

If You Think Making a Koenigsegg Road Legal Is Easy, Think Again!
- image 897112

The U.S. and Europe (as well as most of Asia and the Gulf region) have different specific requirements when it comes to the crash tests that must be performed and the biggest difference is the speed at which certain objects hit the car or the speed at which the car itself collides with certain objects. The emissions-related regulations too are different with the U.S. being unique in that some states have tougher laws in this area than others and you must get your car ready for all of them.

Does it matter that Koenigsegg is a low-volume manufacturer?

If You Think Making a Koenigsegg Road Legal Is Easy, Think Again!
- image 897113

It may seem weird that both Volkswagen and Koenigsegg have to build their cars to withstand the same sort of crash tests and have to develop technology to make them just as eco-friendly considering one is a giant group and the other a small boutique manufacturer but it’s true. Tugas makes it clear that, while low-volume automakers do get exempt in Europe from having to pass some regulations, that’s not the case over in the U.S.

But, you’ll say, what about a provision of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act passed in 2015 that exempts low-volume carmakers from some crash-test standards? At the time, it was reported that the "Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015" allowed boutique automakers to keep making their Shelby Cobra replicas, for instance, as long as they didn’t sell more than 325 cars a year. Why doesn’t Koenigsegg get this break too? Well, the catch is in the word replica.

If You Think Making a Koenigsegg Road Legal Is Easy, Think Again!
- image 897114

The law was mainly made with replica makers in mind, as SEMA pointed out in a statement released at the time. "Replica cars resemble production vehicles manufactured at least 25 years ago. The U.S. currently has just one system for regulating automobiles, which was established in the 1960s and designed for companies that mass-produce millions of vehicles. The law recognizes the unique challenges faced by companies that produce a small number of custom cars.”

Koenigsegg, on the other hand, isn’t in the business of building and selling replicas, nor does it make restomods and, as such, it must go through hell and back (like its Regera test mule that was subjected to a 10-month testing period in Spain) to make sure its cars can be driven on the road by the wealthy customers willing to pay in excess of $3 million for a car. Having said that, it’s worth pointing out that even the low-volume automakers that are covered by the 2015 provision and thus don’t have to pass all of the NHTSA’s crash tests, still have to fit their cars with modern-day drivetrains that pass modern-day emission regulations - there’s no way circumventing that. Almost.

If You Think Making a Koenigsegg Road Legal Is Easy, Think Again!
- image 897117

There is something called the "Show or Display" act, a statutory amendment to the United States Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) that allows certain privately imported automobiles to be exempted from any and all sorts of safety/emissions testing if the vehicle in question is deemed to meet a standard of "historical or technological significance".

Passed in 1999, the act doesn't allow enthusiasts Stateside to just bring any oddity over and then drive it on the road as their hearts desire.

Described as a "convoluted collection of three-letter acronyms, multilayered regulation and conflicting statutes" by Autoweek, this whole thing is actually very strict when it comes to which cars can benefit from it in terms of being allowed in and which can’t. A car can be imported under the "Show or Display" act "if the prospective importer is able to show historical or technological significance of the vehicle in question, and if the vehicle was produced in limited numbers (with 500 being used as a threshold value)."

If You Think Making a Koenigsegg Road Legal Is Easy, Think Again!
- image 897119

Sadly, Koenigsegg couldn’t get their cars in that way either so they had to do it the hard way. At the end of the day, the Swedes can at least be happy that they keep doing it for over 20 years considering rival company Pagani failed to homologate the Huayra for the U.S. market, at least at first...

Koenigsegg Jesko specifications
Engine Koenigsegg twin turbo aluminium 5,0L V8, 4 valves per cylinder, flat-plane crankshaft, double overhead camshafts, dry sump lubrication
Compression: 8.6:1
Bore: 92 mm Stroke: 95.25 mm
Sequential, multipoint fuel injection with individual cylinder pressure sensors and back pressure sensors
Closed loop individual combustion and lambda control, twin ceramic ball bearing turbo chargers with Koenigsegg response system.
1.7 bar boost pressure (2.2 bar with E85)
Dry sump lubrication. Carbon fiber intake manifold with optimised intake tracts
Tig-welded ceramic coated 0.8 mm wall thickness inconel exhaust system manifold with merge collector
Total engine weight: 189 kg
OUTPUT Gasoline: 955 kW (1280 hp) at 7800 rpm, redline at 8500 rpm.
E85: 1195 kW (1600 hp)
Torque: 1000 Nm from 2700 to 6170 rpm
Max torque: 1500 Nm at 5100 rpm

Source: Motor1

Michael Fira
Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read full bio
About the author

Related Articles

2020 Koenigsegg Jesko

2017 Koenigsegg Regera

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: