Real question is: can the tires handle that speed?
Late last year, the Koenigsegg Agera RS became the world’s fastest production car, with a two-way average speed of 277.87 mph. Of course, that record will eventually be broke. The Bugatti Chiron is just one likely contender. But will Koenigsegg sit back and do nothing about the competition? Of course not. Both company founder Christian von Koenigsegg and Michelin tire product engineer Eric Schmedding spoke to The Drive at Detroit last week about speed, tires, and what’s technically possible.
“Our car doesn’t end where the wheel ends,” von Koenigsegg said. “Our car ends at the tarmac, and the tire is an integral part of our engineering.” And, for the record, the Agera RS brought to Detroit was the very one that set the world speed record. In fact, it was still wearing the exact same set of tires. You see, Koenigsegg and Michelin teamed up to specifically develop this tire, and Schmedding is confident the tire can withstand even greater speeds. “We never intended these tires to go 270 mph,” Schmedding said. “But while they’re rated for much lower speeds, we also know their true capabilities are much higher,” he said. “When a tire is rotating that fast, the enemy is heat generation,” Schmedding explained.
“What’s also critical is its acceleration rate above 200 mph, including how long it would take to get from 250 to 260, 270 to 280, et cetera. When we got that information, we developed a test plan to confirm the tires could meet the requirement.” Most importantly, those tires were nowhere near their limits last November. Does this mean the Agera RS can go even faster? Say, 300 mph? “If someone wants to set that record, it’s very doable,” Koenigsegg said. “For the car we would need more RPM and a longer gear ratio, but we could hit 300 right now. It’s scary and very dangerous to drive this fast, because there are a lot of uncontrollable aspects, such as animals, tumbleweeds, bumps, wind. It’s doable, but it’s not our objective.”