Koenigsegg – Smarter Thinking

Koenigsegg CFD

Since the company’s foundation in 1994, hyper cars manufactured by Koenigsegg have held numerous speed records, including breaking the 0-300 km/h record (14.53 seconds) in 2011, holding the Nürburgring speed record (311 km/h) in 2006 and achieving the record for the world’s fastest production car (389 km/h) in 2005. Koenigsegg’s Technical Director, Jon Gunner, has plans to continue this record-breaking pattern:

“Koenigsegg has embarked on an ambitious challenge to develop a market-leading hyper car in just six months with a small advanced-engineering team, who need to push the limits of performance and aerodynamics in the quest to deliver a vehicle that will outperform all production cars on the track and, without modification, also be able to reach a top speed of 440 km/h.”

With around fifty employees, Koenigsegg is very small compared with many of its competitors – some of which are parts of companies employing hundreds of thousands of staff. In order to compete with these rivals, who are able to put far more resources into the development process, and deliver its hyper car before their competitors catch up, Koenigsegg needs to think differently and smarter. So, as part of the development process for their new hyper car, Koenigsegg partnered with High Performance Computing (HPC) Wales, ICON Technology & Process Consulting Ltd. (ICON) and Fujitsu. David Green, Commercial Director of ICON, explains the partnership:

“440 km/h is far and away faster than any wind tunnel can ever reproduce. Koenigsegg also don’t have the resources to build lots of prototypes. So, wherever possible they use virtual design for the structure, aerodynamics and fluid dynamics. This makes Koenigsegg unique; they are entirely committed to virtual design. We saw an opportunity for ICON to help Koenigsegg develop the car by utilising our relationship with Intel, Fujitsu and HPC Wales. We worked out a deal that gave them rapid access to the multiple cores on the HPC Wales system, required for highly computationally intensive CFD simulation.

“Koenigsegg have their own HPC equipment and installations of iconCFD software in-house but it’s limited to 32 cores. Koenigsegg are able to build models in-house and do simple runs, but not on the scale required for their aggressive development target for the new product range.”

Jon Gunner agrees that, without access to HPC Wales’ technology and ICON’s unlimited and parallel software, it would have been impossible for Koenigsegg to design the car in the timeframe necessary to stay ahead of their competitors:

Jon Gunner, Technical Director, Koenigsegg

“To achieve our heady goal, Koenigsegg needed access to the latest iconCFD fluid dynamics simulation software and the ability to run hundreds of simulations using the software. This would not have been possible without the use of cloud computing services and the essential collaboration with Fujitsu and HPC Wales, which enabled the team to deliver the project on time and to specification.

“The ability to run multiple cases simultaneously with rapid results meant the design could be optimised effectively and safely, covering not only the key tasks but also failure and abuse cases, minimising program risk. This was essential to the success of the project. The seamless integration of the software on the servers and the user friendly access also meant the engineers could work from anywhere and submit jobs at any time.”

Koenigsegg and ICON are using HPC Wales’ technology to run simulations of the aerodynamics of the car, generating the type of data that would otherwise have required the use of prototypes in a wind tunnel. Since the results of these simulations will never be verified experimentally (until the completed car is tested on the track), it is vital the simulations are as accurate as possible. David Green described the work that has been carried out so far:

“Over 2 - 3 months, working with HPC Wales, Fujitsu and the team at ICON, Koenigsegg’s engineers carried out more than thirty different simulations of the aerodynamics. These simulations typically used around 128 cores and in some cases ran for more than 24 hours simulating only one second of air flow over the car, so it’s a very compute-intensive process.

“We used a highly accurate method called Detached Eddy Simulation, where we make very few assumptions to simplify the simulation, but we can describe very accurately what happens to the air surrounding the car. There are cheaper ways of doing CFD simulations but, in a case like this, where Koenigsegg are not going to be able to do a lot of fine tuning with prototypes, we wanted the simulation to be as close to real life as possible. HPC Wales has enabled this prestigious project with Koenigsegg."

The use of iconCFD software has accelerated the design process for Koenigsegg and brought a 440 km/h with record braking track performance hyper car within their capabilities. The next stage is to build the car based on the final design determined from the simulations and then test it on the track. David Green is optimistic that the car will beat the competition:

“You don’t really know until you put it together, as the simulations only look at the external aerodynamics and other things also affect the speed: cooling requirements, how the car is set up and suspension. It’s not just aerodynamics. If you place a car in a wind tunnel, stationary, it doesn’t really capture the full effects of the ground interaction you get when driving, and the same thing applies with CFD. In our experience, we can get within five drag counts, so that’s 0.05% of the wind tunnel results, and that’s in the order of magnitude of the difference you might see in testing from one day to the next due to varying conditions. What we have less certainty of is how the vehicle behaves on the road compared to CFD, so it’s going to be a discovery. In principle, if the test track is straight, atmospheric conditions are stable and geometric setup of the car is not highly influenced by track imperfections, we should be quite accurate.”

The impact of access to high performance computing via HPC Wales has revolutionised the way in which Koenigsegg can design their cars, David Green believes that collaborations like this have the potential to do the same for other ICON customers across many sectors of industry:

“There’s a whole middle market out there of people who can’t afford to buy a high performance computer or the software to go on it. We’re hoping to address that sector through a relationship between Fujitsu, HPC Wales and ICON. We believe we can make reliable high performance computer-driven CFD available to the masses.”

HPC Wales is leading the way in providing access to high performance computing and specialist application software to small companies, enabling them to level the playing field and compete with much larger rivals. The collaboration between Koenigsegg, ICON and Fujitsu to design the world’s fastest production car provides an example of what could be achieved by the smaller companies when they have on-demand access to state-of-the-art computational technology. David Green explains just how revolutionary this could be:

“I think their example should become something of an inspiration: a small company with maybe a four-man design team taking on the biggest companies in the world and delivering a world-beating high performance car. It shows others what can be achieved. It means that even for companies with relatively modest resources – a small office with a few people – if they have access to the right software on HPC Wales’ infrastructure, , then what they are able to achieve is limited only by their imagination.”