Are You Ready For a Future Without Camshafts? - Automotive Blog
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Thoughts and Mods

Discussion of after-market accessories and modifications, with the occasional rant and oddity thrown in.

Are You Ready For a Future Without Camshafts?

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I know that I'm a bit more focused on the future than I should be. While I'm happy to talk about technology for printing out replacement parts or the performance hybrid technology on the next Acura NSX, I rarely pay attention to the amazing vehicles right in front of the Koenigsegg Agera R below.

Fortunately, today I've got a chance to talk about both.

First, let's get the fawning over the Agera R out of the way:
  • This car has 950hp twin-turbo 5L V8
  • This 2,900lbs car can generate 700+ lb-ft of torque at 2,000 RPM...that's twice as much torque as most pickup trucks generate at similar RPMs
  • The dashboard features "configurable instruments," meaning you can change the placement of your speedo, tach, and stereo settings based on whatever is most important to you at the time
  • The car has every feature and ability you'd imagine in a limited-production vehicle

In short, the Agera R is arguably the pinnacle of modern vehicle production. Christian von Koenigsegg - the man who founded the company that bears his name - has established himself as on authority on building the world's finest automobiles...which brings us to the camshaft. According to Christian Von Koenigsegg, the camshaft is about 10 years away from extinction.

The Camshaft Needs To Be Replaced

Camshafts are a fantastic example of compromise in design. If engine designers could have anything they wanted, they'd never use a camshaft again. This is because camshafts don't allow for a lot of adjustment...the same cam must be used to actuate the opening and closing of valves, regardless of RPM. This is not efficient.

At best, engineers can use variable valve timing systems like Honda's VTEC or Toyota's VVTi to shift a camshaft's position, thereby altering valve timing by offering designers two options instead of just one.

The solution? Christian Von Koenigsegg and his team are working on pneumatically controlled engine valves, which can be opened and closed precisely when it's most efficient to do so.

What does that mean, exactly? How about 30% more power. Imagine buying an economy car with a 1.0L engine that can generate 150hp while getting close to 50mpg, or a pickup truck that can pull or haul with ease and never get less than 20mpg.

Here's to hoping engine designers figure out a cost-effective way to get rid of the camshaft sooner rather than later, and another Koenigsegg Agera photo just for fun.

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