The car industry has its giants of Toyota, GM, and VW, but there are still plenty of little manufacturers that outperform their budgets and our expectations. Which is the greatest David in the car industry, competing against its established Goliath?
The question came up in our look into Drive's new show on Koenigsegg, hosted by Christian Erland Harald von Koenigsegg himself, taking a look into his factory inside an active volcano in the south Pacific. We called Koenigsegg the world's most innovative supercar maker, and that got Joe_Limonand Hooneriphic into an argument.
I'm not taking anything away from McLaren with a comparison to Koenigsegg, the MP4 12c is surely on my lust list. However, McLaren is trying to become a volume producer of over the top supercars. Yes, loads of F1 tech has migrated into the 12c, and the car is a technological marvel. However, I think when a company like Koenigsegg gets "most innovative" label, it's due in part to what they have accomplished in the latest part of their history. The performance numbers from the Agera are staggering (when you can actually find some). And for the R to make more power using biofuel as opposed to good old unleaded petrol is unnecessary and fantastic all at the same time. Koenigsegg has developed their own composites and manufacturing processes. They get 1100 hp out of a 5.0 litre engine! The original rear suspension concept was developed by Keonigsegg himself.
I think it's the scale at which they work that gets them the props. They have no team of F1 engineers at their disposal. All their tech is developed directly for their cars. As long as McLaren continues to be competitive in F1, their cars will shine. I have friends who work as engineers in the American automotive industry, and to them, working for McLaren represents the Shangri La of automotive engineering. I don't think Ferrari gets into the conversation, and as much as Audi has made Lambo great, they've ruined them in the same sense. Lambo's will never be a boutique car again. Pagani gets props for the heresy he develops but the engines aren't his.
McLaren is every bit the innovator you claim, but because of the money they command, everyone expects it. What normally gets glossed over is the average cost of an Agera-R. If memory serves, you can buy 4 12c's for the price of one Agera-R and the waiting list is quite short over at McLaren.
See that's the thing, at the end of the day, an over abundance or lack of funds really doesn't change much for me. Switching to companies in general... General Electric is perhaps the most innovative company of all time, but that in a large part is due to the massive budget they have for R&D. Does the budget of any of these companies make them superior or inferior? I don't think so, but I guess you're entitled to your own opinion.
Your point is valid. And yes, maybe I am giving an unfair lean to the small guy. It's the whole David and Goliath complex. You have to give credit to Koenigsegg though, take out "the most" and make it "one of the most".
So that has us wondering what small company stands up best to its much larger competitors. It doesn't have to be a question of taking on Toyota or GM, just who does the most with the least. We have our own nomination, what's yours?
Photo Credit: E-Magazine Photography