- Mate Rimac and his brainchild, the Rimac C-Two. (Source: Financial Times)

The Story of Rimac - Tesla's Successor

How Mate Rimac revolutionized the supercar industry with one bold idea.

2y ago
48.4K

Nikola Tesla is regarded to many as a pioneer in modern civilization. Born in Smiljan in the Austrian Empire, which is modern day Croatia, he started a laboratory in New York where he developed and designed the modern alternating current electricity supply system used in many devices and national infrastructure today. His invention of the AC motor took the entire world by storm, especially in the industrial sector as AC was easier to generate, transform and distribute at a lower cost compared to DC.

Other notable inventions by Tesla were the remote control, the induction motor, and most notably, the Tesla Coil. He always had a dream to supply the entire world with free and unlimited energy to make the world a better place but unfortunately, it was never met. Think of all the endless possibilities that would be realized if that goal was met...

63 years after Tesla's death, a young, Croatian entrepreneur named Mate Rimac had a vision to create the world's best electric sports car. At the time, electric cars were viewed as slow, unfashionable, and boring. He wanted to change that. He wanted to prove to the entire automotive industry that an electric car can compete with high-end, fast, and striking supercars from the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche. Inspired by Nikola Tesla, wanted to create the bedroom poster car of tomorrow.

Mate Rimac

Mate Rimac. (Source: Croatia, The War and The Future)

Mate Rimac. (Source: Croatia, The War and The Future)

Mate Rimac was born in Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1988 to Zdenka and Ivan Rimac. When he was three years old, his family moved to Frankfurt, Germany and lived there until the year 2000 where they moved to Samobor, Croatia, as his father started a construction company there.

Rimac invented the iGlove as a graduation project, an entirely new way for users to interact with a computer. Instead of using a separate mouse and keyboard, the user would interact with the computer using their hands via a glove with sensors embedded in it. While it wont be that useful today, it was really useful back in Rimac's graduation years where touchscreens were not yet common. The iGlove earned him multiple local and international awards, and landed him his first patent before he turned eighteen.

The Green Monster

The BMW E30 Green Monster. (Source: New Atlas)

The BMW E30 Green Monster. (Source: New Atlas)

Using the money he earned from the awards he won with his iGlove, Rimac bought his first car at the age of eighteen, a used BMW E30 323i in white. He would frequently use the car in motor racing until one day its engine exploded. Despite that setback, he saw this as an opportunity to combine two of his biggest passions, electronics and cars. Instead of replacing the E30's engine with another gas engine, he decided to convert it into an electric race car.

Rimac would work on the car in his parents' garage and sourced most parts from the Internet. After many hours of hard work, the car was finally complete. It was ready to race against gasoline powered cars with new electric motors producing 593 horsepower and a bright shade of green. Of course, his first few attempts didn't go so well, as the car would break down often. After each failed attempt, Rimac returned to his parents' garage and fixed each problem while adding extra improvements the car in order to unlock its maximum potential. He would also replace existing parts with new parts developed and built by himself.

Overtime, the car got better and better after each race. It was the first time that an electric car would be placed in the same class as gas powered cars. The electric E30 would beat many gasoline-powered cars on the drag strip. In 2010, Rimac's electric E30 won in a competition out of 300 cars after securing the fastest time recorded. In 2012, Rimac's E30 broke a Guinness World Record for the fastest quarter-mile time done by an electric car, clocking in just 11 seconds. He also broke a FIA record for the fastest accelerating electric car in Category A, Group VIII for electric vehicles, and in Class 3 for vehicles weighing over 1,000 kilograms.

The car was nicknamed "The Green Monster" by Rimac, and would serve as a benchmark for an even faster electric car...

Rimac Automobili

Rimac's headquarters in Sveta Nedelja, Croatia. (Source: Rimac)

Rimac's headquarters in Sveta Nedelja, Croatia. (Source: Rimac)

Rimac Automobili was founded in 2009 during development of the Green Monster. He would rent facilities and hire a small team of people to further develop his electric BMW E30. He hired people who were experts in the field of electricity, batteries, and automobiles to improve the range of his electric E30 while trying to squeeze out as much power as possible from the electric motors. Rimac believed that electric propulsion had lots of potential for the automotive industry, and would give much more compared to current offerings in the market.

After the completion of his Green Monster, Rimac took one look at it and realized that only a little of the original car had remained, so he decided to build a brand new electric supercar from scratch based on his experience gained building the Green Monster. Many people tried to build a whole new supercar from scratch before him, but failed. However, some have succeeded, most notably Horacio Pagani and Christian Von Koenigsegg, founders of companies that build some of the fastest and most advanced cars in the world today. Rimac wanted to follow in their footsteps.

Many advisers were against his idea. Croatia had almost no car industry, so it was very difficult to build cars there. There were still many doubts clouding the electric car, as it still had a reputation of being unreliable and short-ranged despite what Rimac had done with the Green Monster. Many advisers told him it was impossible, and it would be best to give up. But Rimac didn't let those words get to him...

The Concept One

The Concept One unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show. (Source: Teslarati)

The Concept One unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show. (Source: Teslarati)

Rimac had one main goal in mind, to build "the world's first electric sports car." He had little to no resources, but he had experience. Because electric systems for high-performance electric cars were not widely available on the market, Rimac would develop their own parts in-house. In total, they filed for 24 patents. Rimac would convert other BMW E30s into electric cars to fund the company after many people showed interest in his Green Monster, and would like to have one for their own.

Rimac hired a friend who was working as a designer in General Motors at the time. It was a two-man team. His friend would design the car, while he worked on the car's electronics. Some 3D models and some sketches emerged out of the partnership, but not a working prototype yet. Rimac made his big break when several Gulf investors showed interest in his company after seeing what the Green Monster could do.

In 2011, Rimac unveiled their first supercar built from scratch, the Concept One during the Frankfurt Motor Show. It looked like nothing else on the road at the time, with a futuristic, aerodynamic design, powered by four electric motors producing a total of 1,288 horsepower, a phenomenal figure at that time. It received a very positive response from the audience with many people showing interest in the Concept One as it was a supercar powered by electric motors, a very uncommon thing back then. In 2012, the car was displayed at the Paris Concours d'Elegance.

Speficifcations

The Rimac Concept One. (Source: Industry Tap)

The Rimac Concept One. (Source: Industry Tap)

The Concept One has a total power output of 1,288 horsepower and 1,600 newton-meters of torque, making it one of the most powerful cars on the road today. The car can go from 0-100 kilometers/hour in 2.5 seconds, reaching an electronically limited top speed of 340 kilometers/hour.

Each wheel is powered by Rimac's in-house developed motor, a liquid-cooled permanent magnet synchronous electric motor, or in simple terms, AC motors. Power is distributed from the batteries throughout the four motors via Rimac's "All Wheel Torque Vectoring Sytem" which distributes power in accordance to user setup and external driving conditions. The Concept One uses carbon-ceramic brakes to increase stopping power. It also has the ability to switch between front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive, as each wheel is spun by four independent electric motors instead of coming from one engine.

The Concept One's motors are powered by a 90 kWh Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide battery, giving the car a range of up to 510 kilometers. The car's body mostly consists of carbon fiber, with a custom leather interior and hand-made dashboard components. The battery could be fully charged in 30 minutes when connected to a fast 200 kW charger.

Financial Troubles

The Rimac Concept One driven and crashed by Richard Hammond. (Source: HD Car Wallpapers)

The Rimac Concept One driven and crashed by Richard Hammond. (Source: HD Car Wallpapers)

Rimac would go through financial turmoil soon after the release of the Concept One. The company ran out of money to cover development costs. They couldn't pay for their rent or electricity, so the company was basically on the brink of collapse. Rimac personally flew to Abu Dhabi to negotiate with the Gulf investors to invest even more into the company to keep it afloat. However, they said that Rimac would need to move the company and all of its assets to the United Arab Emirates in order to get funding.

Despite Rimac really needing the money, he declined the offer. He also had a motivation to do something good for his home country of Croatia, and to show the world that it is possible to start a car company and build a car there. He was motivated to give Croatia's automobile industry a huge boost.

In the end, Rimac didn't get the additional investment, and his company was left alone in the dark...

Recovery

The Rimac Concept One. (Source: Evo Magazine)

The Rimac Concept One. (Source: Evo Magazine)

Rimac wouldn't let his company slowly die. He had gone so far into the project that it would be a horrible decision to back out at this point. Instead of injecting the remaining amount of money into developing new parts for his car, Rimac would reach out to suppliers, as it was cheaper and a more business-friendly option.

Rimac would reach out to multiple suppliers, but most of them would decline. However, a few investors were willing to supply him some new parts. However the cost of access to those parts were still phenomenally high, and Rimac had almost little to no money left. Rimac noticed that the parts that his company developed were far more advanced compared to anything else offered on the market today, so he decided to become a supplier of electric motors himself in order to fund his company.

Rimac would assemble a team to develop electric motors and parts to be supplied to other companies. He would reach out to other car companies and asked them if they wanted electric parts for their cars. The company would be involved in projects of other manufacturers, supplying parts and assisting development. In return, the companies would pay Rimac a huge sum of money, which would be used to fund his company and further develop and produce the Concept One.

Production of the Concept One

The Applus+ IDIADA E-Volare, based on the Concept One. (Source: Rare Delights Magazine)

The Applus+ IDIADA E-Volare, based on the Concept One. (Source: Rare Delights Magazine)

The first car was delivered to Spanish firm Applus+ IDIADA in 2013, an engineering company based in Barcelona providing design, testing, engineering and homologation services for the automotive industry worldwide. Heavily based on the Concept One, Applus+ IDIADA created the Volar-E electric supercar, making it the world's fastest electric car at the time. The only difference it has with the Concept One is a reduced battery size in order to save weight.

Only 8 units would be produced in total. The electric motors would be built in-house by Rimac, while battery cells were supplied by Sony. The car's carbon-fiber parts, machining, infotainment system and other smaller components were sourced from other companies. The car's wheels are supplied by HRE Performance Wheels, co-developed with Rimac.

Almost all critical components of the car, such as the motors and wiring are produced and assembled in-house by Rimac. Their current design team consists of former designers from firms such as Pininfarina and Magna Steyr. The car's exterior was designed by Rimac's friend, Croatian designer Adriano Mudri.

The Concept One is sold through only three authorized dealer networks. PACE Germany for the European region, Manhattan Motorcars for North America, and the Al-Marooni group for the Middle East.

The Concept S

The Rimac Concept S. (Source: Green Car Reports)

The Rimac Concept S. (Source: Green Car Reports)

Rimac unveiled a lighter, more aerodynamic and more track-oriented variant of the Concept One, called the Concept S. The car's power output has been increased to 1,384 horsepower compared to the 1,288 horsepower found in the standard Concept One. The car can go from 0-100 kilometers/hour in 2.5 seconds, while reaching an unlimited top speed of 365 kilometers/hour.

The Concept S weighs 50 kilograms less compared to the standard Concept One thanks to modifications to the car's carbon-fiber shell. The car also features a full aerodynamic package featuring carbon-fiber front splitters, side skirts, racing slicks, and a large rear wing producing 34% more downforce when compared to the Concept One.

Several modifications had also been done to the car's interior, such as using bucket seats with a four-point racing harness, a driver focused infotainment display displaying only the most import information on the central display, along with the car's interior mostly made out of Alcantara. Only two have been made so far.

The C_Two

The Rimac C_Two. (Source: Wallpaper Maiden)

The Rimac C_Two. (Source: Wallpaper Maiden)

In 2018, Rimac unveiled the successor to the Concept One, called the C_Two at the Geneva Motor Show. The car is described as a "significant technological leap" from the Concept One, dubbed "a car alive with technology." The car features a completely new design, still designed by Adriano Mudri, the designer of the Concept One. The new car does away with conventional doors, and features butterfly doors instead.

The C_Two is able to accelerate from 0-100 kilometers/hour in 1.85 seconds, while reaching a top speed of 415 kilometers/hour, making it one of the fastest accelerating cars and one of the fastest cars in the world. The car also has a claimed range of 674 kilometers on a single charge, and can be able to complete two laps around the Nürburgring, one of the longest and most challenging race tracks on Earth.

Rimac claims that the car was made with long-term durability in mind so it could be driven to its maximum potential regularly. The C_Two also has a lot of technology embedded into it, as it is technologically capable of Level 4 Autonomy with full Advanced Driver-assistance systems, using biometrics such as face recognition to unlock the car. The car could be recharged to 80% in under 30 minutes when connected to a fast 200 kW charger.

Motorsport

The Rimac E-Runner racing car. (Source: Rimac)

The Rimac E-Runner racing car. (Source: Rimac)

Rimac, in collaboration with Team APEV, built a one-off racing car called the E-Runner for the purpose of climbing up Pikes Peak. The Pikes Peak hill climb is one of the most challenging hill climbs in the world, spanning 20 kilometers long, and having over 156 turns. Participants in this race climb 2860 meters from the starting line at 1440 meters above sea level to the finish line 4300 meters above sea level.

Because of the high altitude, internal combustion engine-powered cars tend to have difficulties running thanks to the thin atmosphere, as oxygen gets more scarce the higher you climb, which is essential for internal combustion. Electric cars do not need to deal with this, as no combustion is required in an electric car.

Driven by Nobuhiro Tajima, one of the legends of Pikes Peak, and his APEV team, the race car shares many features and parts with the Concept One, such as torque vectoring and utilizing the same electric motors and battery found in the Concept One. The car is more powerful though, producing 1,475 horsepower compared to the 1,288 horsepower found in the Concept One, the car its loosely based on. A new innovative chain-drive system was specifically developed for the car, saving weight and space.

In the end, Tajima broke his personal Pikes Peak record by 11 seconds, completing the hill climb in 9:32:41 while driving the Rimac E-Runner, along with setting a new personal record of 232 kilometers/hour driving through the Pikes Peak Speed Trap. However, the mechanical brakes of the E-Runner failed mid-race, but Tajima managed to safely complete the hillclimb and finish second place after Rhys Millen in the Drive eO, another electric supercar.

Rimac as a Supplier

The Pininfarina Battista, based on the Rimac C_Two. (Source: Euronews)

The Pininfarina Battista, based on the Rimac C_Two. (Source: Euronews)

Rimac still supplies battery systems to other manufacturers today. The company produces KERS Hybrid battery systms for Aston Martin, Koenigsegg, Jaguar and Seat. Rimac systems can be found in other supercars and electric cars such as the Aston Martin Valkyrie, the Koenigsegg Regera, the Jaguar E-type Zero, and the Seat Cupra e-Racer. In 2018, Rimac struck a deal with Italian design house and now supercar manufacturer, Pininfarina, to build their first supercar, the Pininfarina Battista.

Unveiled at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, the Battista is based on the same architecture as the Rimac C_Two, only covered in a more elegant and curvaceous body. The car uses the same battery pack, motors, and electrical systems found in the C_Two, producing a power output of 1,877 horsepower. The Battista shares 40-50% of its components with the Rimac C_Two.

The Volkswagen Auto Group owns a 10% stake in Rimac through its subsidiary, Porsche, after signing a deal to form a development partnership as part of the brand's transition to electric cars. Mate Rimac commented: "This partnership now is an important step for Rimac on our way to become a component and system supplier of choice for the industry in electrification, connectivity and the exciting field of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems".

Reception

The Grand Tour Season 2 Episode 1. (Source: Amazon)

The Grand Tour Season 2 Episode 1. (Source: Amazon)

"we're not talking here about something that's as fast as Lamborghini Aventador. It is massively faster than that; it is faster than anything else I've ever driven by a huge, huge margin."

jeremy clarkson, the times.

In 2016, Dan Prosser of EVO Magazine, praised the vehicle's performance, styling, and torque vectoring system of the Concept One. However, he criticized the car's smaller-than-average cabin size and a pretty numb brake pedal feel, giving it a final verdict of 3.5/5 stars. However, he stated, quote, "The Concept One does lack the soundtrack and the dramatic power delivery of a conventional supercar, but in the way it accelerates and in the way its torque vectoring system picks apart a corner it is enormously entertaining to drive quickly" and concluded that the car "proves EVs can be spectacular to drive"

Richard Meaden of EVO Magazine wrote "Of all the emerging players, Croatian-based Rimac Automobili is by far the most interesting, the most authentic and, to my mind, the most evo. A leader in battery and electric-motor technology, its Concept One hypercar impressively showcases the fruits of its labours, with a huge amount of the car done in-house. ... If Rimac's own Concept One becomes a production reality it could well be a game-changer – the Tesla of the hypercar world."

In 2017, Road and Track magazine tested the Concept One and described it as an ""electric techno extravaganza" and claimed that "the carbon tub you sit in is rigid as a nuclear bunker". It described the feeling of taking off in traffic as "utterly impressive" and noticed its quietness by stating that "Rimac's hypercar only makes a sound when its inverters kick in, as a gentle reminder that you're sitting in the automotive equivalent of a small power station. A sexy, clean, fast and driftable power station."

And on the same year, Richard Hammond took the Rimac Concept One out for a spin on a road trip across Switzerland in The Grand Tour alongside Jeremy Clarkson in a Lamborghini Aventador S and James May in a 2017 Honda NSX. During a hill climb in Hemberg, Switzerland, Hammond lost control of the Rimac he was driving and rolled down the side of a hill just after crossing the finish line. He managed to crawl out of the wreckage with only a fractured knee before the car burst into flames and went into thermal runaway shortly after.

However, after the crash, Jeremy Clarkson wrote in a column for The Times newspaper, calling the Concept One "amazing" and "brilliant", and stated that during his brief time behind the wheel he "couldn't believe how fast it accelerated" adding "we're not talking here about something that's as fast as Lamborghini Aventador. It is massively faster than that; it is faster than anything else I've ever driven by a huge, huge margin."

During a post-crash interview of Richard Hammond for DriveTribe alongside Mate Rimac, he commented that he "loved it (the Concept One); it was astonishing", maintaining it had "proper ambition in terms of range" and describing its all-wheel torque vectoring system as "breathtaking". He further commented that it "felt genuinely futuristic and modern" and that "we are going to have to invent a whole new vocabulary ... for the sounds these things make" James May also described it as an "exquisite pearl white electrical delicacy".

Meanwhile, Jonathan Lopez of Top Speed Magazine described the Rimac C_Two as "an absolute game changer." He continued "Not just in the EV segment. Between the onboard tech and mind-boggling performance specs, this machine has the goods to take on the best of the best." Vlad Savov of The Verge criticized its design, saying that it looks "anonymous and unexciting", saying the car was less flamboyant than the Lamborghini Huracan. However, he admitted that the C_Two is "more forgiving and accommodating than most other hypercars", but stated that the readouts on the infotainment "were too distracting."

In Conclusion

Mate Rimac. (Source: Innovators Under 35)

Mate Rimac. (Source: Innovators Under 35)

To many of us car enthusiasts, Mate Rimac is a pioneer in the automotive industry. He proved to the entire world that electric cars can be as fast and as cool as gasoline powered cars, and created the world's first electric supercar out of nothing but his experience and a few spare parts lying around. His innovations and products are ahead of its time, which helped his company to bounce back from near-bankruptcy.

He's comparable to Nikola Tesla, as they both pioneered the electric motor. Tesla would invent the AC motor in 1887, while Rimac would push it to its absolute limits, utilizing it into some of the fastest electric cars on Earth over a century later. Even though Tesla didn't achieve his goal of giving the entire world free and unlimited energy, Rimac achieved his goal to create the best electric supercar in the world, and the bedroom poster car for tomorrow.

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Comments (28)

  • This is a great publication! You did a really cool job researching all that stuff. My congratulations!

    Some time ago I also wrote of Mate Rimac. But from a slightly different perspective. Also, the amount of facts I used is incomparable to what you did! drivetribe.com/p/super-car-crafting-STqKDJ8ZSq-V3fFseVfwvQ?iid=N2UwxdxyTqGajt9_ONczcQ

      2 years ago
    • Read your article. Its really nice. I didnt know someone created their own Frankenstein of a sports car from scratch and even developed an app for his car to do functions normally done using a car key.

        2 years ago
  • Come on @Mate Rimac, confirm the story. We know you are out there

      2 years ago
    • Most information came from /Drive's series called Inside Rimac where the /Drive crew interview Mate Rimac. Other sources are from Rimac's official website and Wikipedia (with citations).

        2 years ago
    • I know. Just wanted Mate to drop a comment as he sometimes does on DriveTribe

        2 years ago
  • I love start up pioneers with huge visions such as Pagani, Koenigsegg, etc. I'm still warming up to the whole electric car thing, but (Mate) Rimac has certainly blown the roof off of what people thought possible and has developed a beast!! As this article says, his technology is in the top supercars (Valkyrie, Regera); and the fact he held to his roots and denied the nay sayers by establishing his company in Croatia. Much respect!!

      2 years ago
    • Thanks! Couldn't wait to see what the C_Two could do after the first customer cars are delivered in 2020.

        2 years ago
  • Really good post.

      2 years ago
  • Great post! I did a post on the history of Rimac a while ago but it was much less detailed than yours

      2 years ago
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