The road from child's dreams to global automotive recognition. How to.
When I was a child I used to dream a lot. I could walk rounds and rounds clockwise in my room speaking to myself, gesticulating hard and imagining something bright and beautiful. It was me who explored depths of the world oceans with Jacques Yves Cousteau, It was me who drove Dylan McKey's '58 Porsche 356 Speedster from “Beverly Hills,” it was me who dated Carrie-Ann Moss aka Trinity from “The Matrix,” it was me who wielded Optimus Prime and sketched best inventions of humankind in my free time, it was me who...
The bitter point here is that “it was me,” not “it is me.” My lifestory of success in engineering, exploring, dating, and speeding can be seen nowhere, but in my dreams. In this light I'm some kind of a loser who writes books and teaches students for living. Booooooredom. Drama! I continue spending my precious time on routine activities instead of carving my name with golden letters into the history! Not to speak that there exist successful examples of people who made their child's dreams coming true!
One of such examples is Moses Ngobeni from Giyani, Limpopo, South Africa. As a child, he dreamed of crafting his supercar. He sketched it in 1994 for the first time. And he presented it to the world in 2016!
The red pocket rocket is actually a blend of at least six Japano-German vehicles. 2.0L engine and rear brake light originally belonged to '98 BMW 318is, side windows are also Bavarian and taken from '05 BMW M3 E46, windscreen comes from VW Caddy, rear windows from '86 Mazda 323, headlights from '11 Audi TT Mk2, taillights from '15 Nissan GT-R. The chassis, body and interior are unique and handcrafted. As Moses says himself, “It was bend by hand, the body structure, shape and everything, it was handmade.” Needless to say that it was made with passion, admiration and love.
The supercar can be ignited remotely with a special application on Moses' cellphone. Maximum speed of the pocket rocket has been limited to 250 km/h. It can also boast with 18 inch wheels, airbags, and an in-dash computer. Moses completed the whole supercar project in three years and it cost him 240K ZAR (equivalent to almost $17K).
The Ngobeni family is very proud of Moses' achievement. I can imagine why! This supercar is unique and first of its kind. Never before in the national record a supercar was designed and crafted solely by a South African. Moses himself claims to craft it for the country and for the people. What a great guy!
Now, if I was that much talented and dedicated as Moses to complete a supercar project, I would also be immensely proud. However, would my relatives and people on the streets share the same excitement? Would they appreciate this type of a vehicle which was crafted to boost their national self-esteem? I'm afraid, they would not. Moses' creation is a good attempt in the industry, but this is not the way cars should be crafted. Specifically supercars from the scratch in an environment with poor automotive tradition.
That is what, actually, Jeremy Clarkson also highlighted on the example of '05 Kia Rio's misengineerings in his book “Don't stop me now:”
“… here in the West our grandparents grew up with the car, whereas in Korea everyone’s grandparents grew up on an ox … As a result a car, any car, is still a novelty. It’s no surprise to find that over there the Rio is called the SF, which– I’m not joking – stands for Science Fiction. To them, it’s probably as amazing as the Model T Ford was to the Americans 80 years ago. Think about it. The people who designed the Rio got the wheels in the right place and knew how to fit electric windows, but they know nothing of engine refinement or suspension compromises. For Koreans, trying to make a world-class automobile is as hard as us trying to make dog-and-vinegar-flavoured crisps. We wouldn’t know where to start.”
To have alternative perspective on how to, let us move to the north from Limpopo in South Africa. Far to the north. To Sveta Nedelja in Croatia, where another car dreamer lives.
The same as in South Africa, Croatian automotive industry is comparatively poorly developed. You can open Wikipedia and read that there existed no full cycle of a personal vehicle production up to mid-2010s. What Croatia did last twenty years was multiplying automotive parts and software for the Western companies. And building buses. As for today, the automotive industry accounts for ~2 per cent of all Croatian exports. Not that impressive.
First automotive companies – Tvornica motora Zagreb (TMZ) and Tvornica Autobusa Zagreb (TAZ) – were founded in Croatia's capital the aftermath of the Second World War. TMZ remained operational up to 1963. TAZ was more successful and lasted up to early 2000s. In 1980s, in times of its zenith, TAZ employed as many as 1200 people and produced as many as 900 buses a year. Vehicles were exported to China, Finland, Great Britain, Egypt and other countries. With both Tvornica's getting out of order, buses is what continues to brand Croatian automotive industry. CROBUS, one of the newest manufacturers, signed in 2013 a deal with Iraq to produce and export 2.000 vehicles. The deal is worth ~$350KK.
Apart from buses, Croatia produced – and continues to produce – armored machinery for military needs. The only two manufacturers doing something for individual civic use are DOK-ING and Rimac Automobili. The latter, actually, constitutes a very interesting one-man-initiated phenomenon.
And here comes the moment to speak of Mate Rimac, another dreamer who decided to build a supercar from a scratch. In a very unfavorable and technologically obsolete environment. But, unlike Moses, his approaches were different.
It all started with his buying BMW E30 for drifting and dragging. Apparently, this purchase happened in times of late Mate's childhood when young individuals become legally allowed to drive. Mate exploited his E30 so hard and so enthusiastically that its engine blew up. And here came the trick. Instead of rebuilding the engine or mounting a new one Mate started thinking how to improve the engine's heavy duty longevity.
The answer resided in replacing internal combustion engine with electric motor.
And that is what he did. The result was fantastic! Electric E30 weighted 1150 kg and stabled 600 horses. That constituted 664 lb ft of torque and provided 0-100 km/h acceleration in 3.3 seconds. Mate became “invincible,” but at a price. E30 could roll for only 180 km on one charge and it took eight hours to charge it from a wall socket. Moreover, Mate concluded that it did not pay off to rebuild internal combustion vehicle into electric. The vehicle gained unnecessary weight and became impractical as the only place for batteries was trunk. So, Mate decided that proper electric vehicles should be built as electric from the very beginning. And that is how he arrived at Concept One.
To draw intermediary conclusions, if you intend to become a supercar engineer and start earning money, you should constantly generate ideas and dreams. This is the basic requirement.
Second requirement is appropriate education and readiness for self-development.
Moses acquired a degree in electric engineering. By the way, this helped him to connect his cellphone to the engine. However, as Moses confesses himself, he did not have sufficient expertise before cutting and bending the first steel plate. While Mate went into this business right away.
Being a student of a high school in Samobor, Mate decided to specialize in mechatronics. His graduate research was iGlove, an innovative symbiosis of mouse and keyboard amplifying and facilitating the work of an advanced user. iGlove was a national success: Mate won first place in his county and in his country with it. iGlove evolved into an international success either as Mate kept on returning with gold medals from numerous exhibitions overseas. He also managed to establish numerous business contacts.
Having completed the high school, Mate continued his education at University of Applied Sciences VERN' in Zagreb. As he says himself, VERN' was a place to acquire necessary technical knowledge for his inventions and business. Mate aimed to understand what goods to produce and how to sell them. This ended up in writing numerous business plans some of which became award winning. Apart from acquiring “solid engineering knowledge” at VERN,' Mate also developed his “learning by doing” skills. As he confesses: “Nowhere can one learn how to make the most powerful electric car in the world or how to get a good idea and successfully commercialize it.”
Third requirement is the proficient and motivated team. That is what also Moses evidently lacked.
Rimac Concept One became so impressively refined because Mate knew what he wanted and engaged high-class specialists to complete his project. For instance, the supercar design was created by Adriano Mudri, an Austria born Croatian. He and Mate weighted every detail in the 3D model and rendered the Concept One exactly how they wanted it. Afterwards, mechanical engineers took the stage and developed unique batteries and powertrain. A dozen of good and motivated engineers! Finally, a sophisticated financial plan was sketched – which envisaged external investments – allowing the supercar to be crafted fast and to be crafted in Croatia. All this made Rimac Automobili – Mate's company – a player in the global electric cars' business. Out of the blue!
Concept One was first presented to the public in September 2011 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It was – and it remains – a 1650 kg and 1088 HP pocket rocket capable of reaching 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds. Its maximum speed is electronically limited to 305 km/h. Its range constitutes 600 km with the four motors rotating four wheels on demand. This is a unique supercar, first of its kind. Made up from the scratch. Made up by Croatian in Croatia. Made up as a meticulously calculated dream...
… and phantasmagorically ruined by Richard Hammond.
To put a full stop here.
Mates, it is great if you have ambitious dreams. But the only thing which matters is whether you know how to transform your dreams into plans. And the more refined and calculated plans you can sketch, the higher and faster you will go.
[Be aware: These pathetic advices on how to be successful are given by a guy who makes for his living with teaching and theorizing, which have lead him to no noticeable successes so far]
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P.S. Matt Parsons can be reached here: www.behance.net/Matthew_Parsons_SA
P.P.S. Neither Moses Ngobeni, nor Mate Rimac paid me anything for using their names and brands.