His life story sounds like a film narrative. Mate Rimac, the Croats from the country almost untouched by the car industry, was already a little obsessed with cars. Simulated for them, as a visionary later attracted by the Arab Sheikhs. Now he produces Rimac electric stings that make it easy to ride on the motorway.
“I’m totally obsessed with cars. My parents told me that I was interested in them before I started talking and walking. I suppose I even simulated having a broken arm just to sit in my car and drive to the hospital, “said Croatian Mate Rimac, who designed the fastest electric car in the world. No uncomfortable box, but the erased supersport car for about 1,2 million dollars.
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He represented his country during the last weekend of the World Finals of the EY Businessman of the Year in Monaco, and his business story has an unrivaled range. Already in high school, he has twice succeeded in the national competition for the best innovation in electrical engineering.
“It was school projects. I invented the glove that replaced the keyboard and mouse functions. It was meant to control television and the Internet. It was still in the wake of smartphones. And I’ve also designed a system to eliminate dead spots while driving, “says a charismatic visionary. He even has two patents, but at that time he had no idea how to start generating and selling the system.
When he was eighteen, he bought his first car, the BMW 3 Series of 1984. “I bought a car that was four years older than me. I wanted to race with him, but the old engine exploded. So I decided to change it to an electric car, “says Rimac.
In the record book
The parts were looking for wreck sites or forklifts, later producing his own. The car was gradually upgrading and riding with it after races where it rivaled cars with a combustion engine. “I was laughing at the beginning:” What do you do with the machine on the racetrack? “But then I started to win,” Rimac smiles. In 2011, he earned a record in the Guinness Book for Electric Car with the fastest acceleration.
It was his dream to build his own car. “But there are huge entry barriers in the automotive industry. Hundreds of people tried to run their own car, but almost nobody could, “says Rimac.
The main obstacle is an investment in development. In the beginning, Rimac was able to draw money from Sheikh Abu Dhabi, who liked his idea and sketch. Together, they agreed to present the prototype at the Frankfurt Motor Show. But they demanded Rimac move to the Persian Gulf with which he disagreed.
“Three guys worked for me then. In order to pay them, I had to borrow wherever I could, I had to sell everything I could, including my father’s motorbike, without knowing it, “says Croats. The car was brought to Frankfurt, but it was far away from the finished car.
“We realized it would take years to develop it. We did not have the time or the money, “says Rimac. They then decided to develop technologies for other carmakers. “It was probably the best decision we did,” he adds. Today it is the main business of Rimac, whose customers are Renault, Jaguar, and Aston Martin.
Besides, they worked on their own car. They showed him two years ago at the Geneva Motor Show. Concept One was made eight and sold. This year Concept Two was presented at the same venue.
“The two should be ready in 2020, producing 150 pieces. The price tag is about 1.7 million euros. It’s up to 650 kilometers for one recharge. And the maximum speed will be 412 kilometers per hour. “It could go faster, the only restrictions are tires,” explains Rimac.
Concept One has attracted the attention of the general public, among others due to the accident of Richard Hammond, the presenter of the famous British motoring programs Top Gear and The Grand Tour. When testing the car in Switzerland in June, he did not manage the turn and ran out of the road. The car started to burn after a few tumbling.
“Many people told me it was the best thing to do. This was all over the world, and Croatian newspapers solved it on the front pages this week. But for me, it was quite stressful. It seemed to me that I was aged for ten years, “says Rimac. At that time, the businessman was talking about the money from the investors, and he was afraid he was not convinced by the hype around them.
A Croatian electric car maker is not considered to be the competitor of Tesla. “When I started, I watched Tesla closely. But then it was not Elon, he came later as an investor. I look more closely at the inventor Nikola Tesla, who was also born in Croatia, “says Rimac.