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The Lowdown on von Koenigsegg

James Savage · 25 Nov 2009, 10:56

Published: 25 Nov 2009 10:56 GMT+01:00

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When General Motors was declared bankrupt and Saab was put up for sale, many industry observers were scornful of the prospects for a rescue. Which of the world's carmakers would want to take on a manufacturer with such low sales and such big losses? It would need a company with deep pockets - and a big vision.

When Christian von Koenigsegg's eponymous company, Koenigsegg Group, finally emerged as the top bidder, many were incredulous. Saab might be a minnow by almost all motor industry standards, but compared to Koenigsegg, it was a giant. Saab was formed in 1947, supercar maker Koenigsegg Automotive sold its first car just seven years ago, and last year produced 18 vehicles at its factory in a hangar at Ängelholm airbase, southern Sweden.

But if Koenigsegg is tiny, its founder has always had big ideas. His record speaks for itself: he founded the carmaker in 1994, at the age of just 22, with some start-up loans and some help from the family. Within two years a prototype was ready and by 2002 the first car was sold, with the family crest on the badge.

A year later it was reported that a Koenigsegg had taken the record for the fastest speeding ticket ever issued in the United States, clocking 242 mph in a 75 mph zone. By 2005 a Koenigsegg had officially become the fastest production car in the world, when a CCR surpassed the MacLaren F1 as the fastest production car in existence, clocking a speed of 240 on the Nardò track in Italy.

All that speed comes at a price: a Koenigsegg CCXR currently costs a cool $1.2 million. Despite the hefty price tag, the company has found people willing to pay, and say they made a small profit on sales of $13.8 million last year.

Everything about Koenigsegg the company, and von Koenigsegg the man, is as far from the dry, accountant-driven world of volume carmakers as it is possible to get. When asked how he decided to make supercars, he always says he was inspired by a Norwegian cartoon. In the film, Flåklypa Grand Prix, a bicycle repairman builds a world-beating Formula One car, assisted by a melancholic hedgehog, a cheerful magpie and money from a passing Arab oil sheikh.

"I remember walking out of the cinema when I was five years old and thinking 'I'd like to do that,'" he said when interviewed this autumn.

Von Koenigsegg was never short of entrepreneurial role models. He was brought up in a well-connected family from the fancy Stockholm suburb of Djursholm. Father Jesko has started a number of engineering and finance companies; his mother is a haute couture milliner, or hat maker, who supplies the Swedish royal family.

"When I started Koenigsegg my father thought I was crazy, but then he came round to the idea and actually joined the board."

His father was only the first of many sceptics that von Koenigsegg has had to win over.

"Lots of people were asking who would buy a supercar like that. But Koenigsegg is still there and they make one of the world's fastest cars. They even appear to be making some kind of profit," said Mikael Wickelgren, a car industry expert at the University of Gothenburg.

Story continues below…

Overcoming the scepticism of others has required a particular brand of self-confidence from the Swede:

"I see myself as having an unrestricted mind. It's not that I don't see the obstacles - I do - but I always see a way to pass them."

With the Saab deal now in tatters, however, it seems not even the maker of sleek sports cars could find a way.

James Savage (james.savage@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

20:43 November 25, 2009 by quieteye
This is truly sad news. The promise of a Koenigsegg Saab was genius, fitting, and a dream to behold. A rich cultural heritage on wheels abandoned. Sad.
12:09 November 26, 2009 by karex
I have doubted they could pull this through from the beginning. However, I was hoping he could prove me wrong. I am disappointed that I won't have a chance to see how it would have ended.
21:41 November 26, 2009 by krigeren
Sweden needs more visionaries like him and more opportunities for those with vision to go for it.
11:56 November 27, 2009 by spy
Very sad news that the deal fell through but it is not only the Saab brand that has been damaged Koenigsegg Automotive will suffer too.

Buyers of supercars do not want to be associated with losers and the Koenigsegg Group lost Saab - this will be magnified if Saab is sold to a new owner.
12:33 November 27, 2009 by Nemesis
Koenigsegg are down, not out.

Koenigsegg will be back, stronger than ever.
12:49 November 27, 2009 by here for the summer
a publicity play . He sells 18 cars a year is was almost totally unknown outside of this small world of buyers of million dollar cars .. now he has been written about world wide. He'll probably double his sales to 36 cars next year based upon this aborted sale.

He had little chance of pulling this off without the EU government loan which was denied. Going from managing his small company to running Saab was too big a step to bet on.


I have met him .he looks a lot more normal and ordinary in person. Nice guy . Cool cars ..
16:44 November 27, 2009 by usgepo
What a load of rubbish.

Very little you see from this guy resembles reality, nothing but a mere publicity stunt by an overinflated egomaniac!

Glad to see that our tax money did not fund a scam!
19:36 November 27, 2009 by Nemesis
@ usgepo

What evidence do you have that Christian von Koenigsegg has been involved in a scam?

I suggest you present your evidence.

The proposed deal was not a publicity stunt, but a genuine attempt to take over SAAB and save it.

If he had been an American, you would have priased him. Your anti-Swedish business ability belief has really shown through.

I believe that Christian von Koenigsegg has the ability to create a world beating company.

I look forward to watching his next move and hopefully next time he will suceed.

I personally think that the SAAB facility and brand name should be handed to Christian von Koenigsegg, to save jobs and make it into a sucess. I think Christian von Koenigsegg he would suceed.
22:43 November 27, 2009 by workforthesoup
The whole idea of Koenigsegg bidding to buy SAAB is a strategical motive.

Koenigsegg knew that they cant arrange the finances for such a huge takeover, but doing the bidding, increased the market share of Koenigsegg and its commercial advertisement.

practical truth.

the rest are facts.
08:16 November 28, 2009 by usgepo
Regardless if he was an American, British, Indian or whatever, it has nothing to do with it, your comments and believes as well as others only show how far removed you are from the finance community in Sweden and elsewhere.

Check the facts then make a point.
09:44 November 28, 2009 by Nemesis
@ usgepo

You have stated that the failed Konegsegg and SAAB deal was a scam.

Where is your evidence for this extremely serious accusation of attempt at fraud by Christian von Koenigsegg?
13:51 November 28, 2009 by usgepo
Serious accusations?, get informed my dear lady, honestly!
14:17 November 28, 2009 by rugla
Nemesis it is true you need to get informed!

It reminds me of the balloon boy, a publicity scam, and a pum and dump scam, also Koenigsegg, he looks like a shiny balloon as well.
14:40 November 28, 2009 by Nemesis
@ usgepo and rugla

Explain your allegation that Christian von Koenigsegg is involved in a scam of tax payers money?

Abusive statements are not answering my question.

What is your evidence of a scam by Christian von Koenigsegg?

Or are you two making groundless allegations for the sake of making allegations?

I would suggest you check Swedish law regarding slander and libel. Sweden is not in America. You are commenting ona Swedish forum.
17:18 November 28, 2009 by rugla
Well aware this is Sweden as I´m Swedish, no one is making accusations but stating opinions based on data facts.

So now you are a lawyer as well, and an expert in Swedish law? if I recall a while ago week you were making comments about your marksman capabilities of putting a bullet between someone's eyes, is anybody in the forum considering that a serious threat, no, it is an open forum were people are entitled to their opinions as you are yours.

Many and I mean many people, if you read the comments on the Swedish press, believe this acquisition attempt was a scam full stop, you are entitled to yours GI Jane, of all the great traits which make woman great and many cases better than man, having the last word is not one of them, that is for sure!
17:27 November 28, 2009 by Nemesis
@ rugla

Your inability to present facts and need to issue a constant stream of baseless conspiracy's is noted.

Now can you please give facts as to the basis of your allegations?

You have stated that the attempted aquisition was a scam.

Please present your evidence to back this up your allegation.

If you have no evidence state so.
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