Pay attention because this technology will make it here too.
When trying to explain engines in more simple terms, people reference Rube Goldberg machines. A Rube Goldberg inherently works by a domino effect of mechanical processes, and the engine was no exception. Camshafts are the prime example. They control the intake and exhaust valves and are controlled by the crankshaft. This makes it easy to coordinate the two because the camshaft is opening and closing valves relative to the crankshaft’s position, but that’s all about to change.
Koenigsegg has a sister company called FreeValve AB, which has a lab inside of a central Koenigsegg facility. FreeValve AB has been pioneering an engine that doesn’t use any camshafts to control the valves. Instead, a series of pneumatic-hydraulic-electric-actuators open and close valves on command. This technology has the potential to make engines more efficient and powerful, but FreeValve AB hasn’t been able to apply its technology to any mainstream cars until now. That’s because it has recently signed an agreement with Chinese automaker Qoros Auto to refine the technology and put it into passenger cars. Without a camshaft, an engine spins more freely because it doesn’t have to use a portion of its energy to work the valves.
Weight savings could also be a benefit if the system is lighter than a camshaft. In fact, when considering the benefits of a cam-free engine, it’s a surprise that in the age of steer-by-wire and throttle-by-wire systems this technology hasn’t come out sooner. By letting a computer control the camshaft, things like cylinder deactivation and varying the timing of the valve openings becomes much easier. In fact, Christian Von Koenigsegg thinks that this leap in technology is comparable to going from carburetors to direct injection. Coming from a man who pioneered a hypercar that doesn’t have a transmission, this is saying a lot. While we won’t get the Chinese cars anytime soon, the technology may eventually migrate and see duty stateside.