If you are a fan of David v. Goliath stories, then the story of Mate Rimac more than fits the bill. This Croatian EV-Builder has founded an electric supercar company from the ground up, producing pioneering technology that has already been purchased by some of the word’s biggest automakers. But that isn’t enough for Rimac. His company, Rimac Automobili, has now built out and sold several concept cars, including the long-gestating Concept_One supercar that has specs that are almost unbelievable.
Back in 2009, Mate Rimac converted a BMW E30 into an electric car, achieving surprising speeds that earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for fastest electric cars. With Rimac Automobili, Rimac set about the task of Building the Concept_One. While the car was in the process of being built – all in-house by Rimac – he started consulting for some of the world’s most impressive automakers. Now on financially strong ground, Rimac brought his Concept Ones to the Geneva Auto Show, where they wowed journalists and gearheads alike.
The Concept_One is called the world’s first all-electric hypercar. Its spec sheet seems impossible, as it rivals the speed and power of the McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari. The Concept_One brings a total of 800 kW (1088 hp) and 1,600 Nm (1,180 ft-lb) of torque distributed among four permanent magnet oil cooled motors. This hypercar zooms quietly to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 2.6 seconds. Yes, you read that right. Unlike other fast electric cars, the Concept_One’s acceleration doesn’t experience a big drop. The car can close the gap between 100 and 200 km/h [188mph], in a mind-blowing 3.6 seconds.
How does Rimac do it? He pioneered a sophisticated torque vectoring system that takes advantage of the quick response afforded by electric motors to calculate the ideal amount of torque to be sent to each wheel. The company calls this Rimac All Wheel Torque Vectoring (R-AWTV). This system takes inputs from suspension-mounted sensors and chassis to manipulate the amount of power each wheel is receiving at a rate of one hundred times per second.
Rimac also changes up the gearbox from its electric car predecessors. Rather than putting the power down through a single speed gearbox, each rear motor is attached to an F1-style two-speed gearbox, which lets even better performance from those super torquey electric motors.
Acknowledging the fast acceleration, Rimac knew his car needed to be able to stop on a dime. He uses a carbon-ceramic braking system at all four corners, plus the R-AWC system acts as an electric ABS system with up to 400 kW worth of regenerative braking power. As a result, the car can generate 0.6 G when it is slowed by its regenerative braking system.
It took Rimac five years to produce the production-ready Concept_One, which included four complete rebuilds. The time has already paid off for the company, with six of the eight vehicles already sold for more than $1 million each.
The body is characteristically light, made from aluminum and carbon fiber semi-stressed members. Still, the onboard battery packs and motors add nice heft, meaning the curb-weight is over 4,000 pounds. The design of the car is appealing, strongly reminiscent of the Jaguar and pleasing to 21st century tastes.
What’s next for Rimac? He intends to mass produce vehicles from home in Croatia. There are also rumors of a collaboration with Apple, although he is not permitted or inclined to comment on that endeavor. In the meantime, Rimac Automobili is definitely a David to watch.