What started out as a poorly-timed blown straight-six engine has culminated, to date, in an operational concept car with a scale of performance comparable to Bugatti’s unfathomably fast Veyron. Minus 596g/km CO2 emissions, of course, because the Rimac Concept_One is entirely electric. We caught up with creator Mate Rimac during the Concept_One’s UK debut at this year’s Salon Privé.
Mate Rimac is a young man. A very young man, in fact, as running car companies with high aspirations is normally the endeavour of men more than twice his age. At just twenty-four year old he’s set up Rimac Automobili near Zagreb, Croatia, with the aim of proving that electric drivetrains offer superior performance to conventional petrol-powered setups. Easier said than done, if feasible at all. And now that Rimac are client-facing and attempting to garner sales, things may be about to get a lot harder than they have been so far.
Designed as a development testbed for the mechanical components required for an electric hypercar, the Concept_One has also afforded designer Adriano Mudri a blank canvas to express himself. The results of his efforts are plain for all to see – the Rimac is, if nothing else, extremely arresting.
Below are Mate Rimac's thoughts on the Concept_One, it's significance for the company, and what the future holds for Rimac Automobili.
From the beginning -
“For me it started as hobby. I started to convert my gas-powered racecar to electric power. I used this car for drifting before it was electric and one race the gas engine blew up and I decided to make an electric car. When I was finished with the first version of the car, I raced against gas-powered cars and usually won. This was something that you don't see everyday - that electric cars can beat gas-powered cars on race tracks and it was interesting for the media, so a few articles came up in the Croatian newspapers and somehow potential customers and investors saw this and they got interested. They wanted to buy cars and race. That was the point when I realised that we could make a business out of it, and I started to do it professionally. I established the company, hired people, and we started to design a car. For me, the decision to make an electric supercar was very easy because I simply believe that electric motors are so much better than gas-powered engines, and especially this architecture that we have developed with the four separate motors is something that allows us to control the car on a completely different level. The decision was really easy.”
On the Concept_One -
“When you want to make a supercar, I think it's very obvious what kind of configuration it has to be. Obviously coupé, two-seater, and we basically started with the powertrain. We first developed the motors and the battery and put it in CAD (computer-aided design software) and then we started to design the car around that. I think the shape of the car formed naturally, and in our case form follows function - although the designer (Adriano Mudri) had a lot of freedom when he designed the car, especially as the Concept_One is not going into production. The production car will be slightly different. I think we made a good compromise between function and design.”
On the production car -
“We will unveil the production car next year. The design will be based on the Concept_One, but really the car will be completely different - it will be wider, the wheelbase longer, and taller - the real problem with this concept car is interior space, there isn't really any. The biggest difference, then, will be the dimensions and, for example, we are still not sure whether the production car will have a rear window, and things like that. The production car will be an evolution of this. Natural leather is the interior of choice. We want to make a high-end car both inside and outside, so artificial materials that, for example, Fisker is using are not something we are considering at the moment.”
One Rimac's base in Croatia -
“When we started to design the Concept_One, it was obvious from the very beginning that we had to develop almost every part of the ourselves. This level of performance has never been considered by anyone before, so we couldn't use any motors or battery systems 'off the shelf'. We had to develop it from scratch. Since we have developed most of the car in house, we are also producing most of the car in house. We really want to produce 90% of the car under one roof. All the composite parts are made in Croatia as well as the power electronics, the battery modules, the suspensions parts and the interior. All the important parts are made by us. We have very modern facilities and we have a young, motivated team - I think it's great for our guys that they can develop something which, a few weeks or months later, is integrated into a prototype which you can actually drive and see how it works. Everyone is very motivated, we are building a world-class car that is pushing the limits and I think everyone is proud of our product.”
On the design team -
“Croatia has no automotive industry, so our people are not experienced in making cars. That may sound like a disadvantage, but I think, in our case, it's good because we have a young, fresh team who have a completely different point of view on how to make cars. Our cars are designed in a different way than normal cars and I think that's not a bad thing. We are simply thinking different. The only guy that has real automotive experience in our company is Adriano Mudri. He used to work for GM and Magna Steyr, so he has some automotive experience, but the rest of the team came from different fields like our Head of Production, who was in charge of developing unmanned vehicles.”
After Concept_One -
“We are a technology company, so the Concept_One is a billboard of what we can do. Currently, we are living off our technology services, so we are selling our parts and our know-how to other companies. For example, we are currently helping produce another electric supercar prototype for another company. We are doing this to finance the development of the Concept_One. Our biggest advantage is that we have the know-how in house. I'm not doing this for the money - my goal isn't to be a huge company with huge production. I am simply a guy with a vision - to advance cars and show that electric cars are not boring, that they can be fun and better than gas-powered cars. I want to prove that we can, in Croatia, build a world-class product. Because, up to now, we don't have any. We as a company will constantly develop new products when we are finished with the Concept_One and, afterwards, will probably introduce a convertible version and every two or three years we want to launch a new car. We will never stop. The next model will probably be in the Lamborghini Aventador-range, whilst this is in the Bugatti Veyron range. By the end of this year we will also launch other products, two-wheeled products. In particular, hi-performance electric bicycles.”
Power: 1088bhp, 4 in-wheel motors Motors: 600kW front, 400kW rear Torque: 1600Nm 0-62mph: 2.8s Top Speed: 190mph Range: 500km Battery: 91kWh, 650V Price: Over $1,000,000
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