At Riot Engine, it’s as much about ‘People’ as the automobiles themselves. When we featured the Rimac Concept_One in our ‘Design’ section, we were stumped by the 23 year old who got a team together and built the stunning Concept_One. The ‘About us’ section on the Rimac website had us hooked. The story of Mate Rimac is incredible for the simple reason that as inspiring as it is, it can also be the life story of any auto enthusiast who takes the first step beyond the boundaries of being just a spectator.
Riot Engine brings you an exclusive interview with the man himself, Mate Rimac, CEO, Rimac Automobili,all the way from Croatia.
Riot Engine: Let’s start at the beginning. Can you tell our readers about your BMW E30?
Mate Rimac: I went to a technical school in Croatia where we had to make a “Matura exercise” before graduating. Usually students make simple electronics like amplifiers. I was totally into electronics so I used the opportunity to build something unique. My invention was elected to participate in a local invention exhibition where I won the first prize. After the local exhibition I participated on the national level where I also won the first place – this opened the door to the world’s biggest international exhibitions. I participated in South Korea, Switzerland, Germany, Malaysia, Czech Republic, Romania etc. On all those exhibitions I usually won gold or silver medals for my inventions which also caught the attention of European car manufacturers and suppliers. I patented my inventions and negotiated with these companies about selling off the rights to use them – quite successful. (I cannot talk about details since I have signed non disclosure agreements)
Besides electronics, I have a big passion for cars and bikes. I owned an old BMW E30 (MY 1884) which I used for drift and circuit races. At one of these races, the gas engine blew up. Then I decided to try building an EV. The goal from the beginning was to create a very powerful car. At first I started on my own. I read a lot about other people’s projects who have already converted cars to EVs, and even some who are using EVs for racing. Then I have ordered parts and started to build the car. After one year or so the car was able to drive but I was not satisfied with the result. It was heavy, not very powerful and the range was very limited. I started to collect a team of experts to develop our own components since I believed that the electric propulsion can give much more compared to what was available on the market (at least for individuals – big companies have access to better technologies).
The old BMW has gone through five development phases. Every time we changed almost everything. The power electronics, motors and battery-packs have been replaced each time with more compact, lighter and more powerful developments. The car got faster, lighter and more reliable each time.
Riot Engine: When your BMW E30 blew its engine, what made you decide to go the electric way instead of getting another combustion engine?
Mate Rimac: I had the idea to make an electric car for a longer time. The blew-up engine was just the trigger to actually start doing it.
In which year did you start off with the development of the e-M3?
Did the same team that work on the e-M3 and the Concept_One?
I started alone in my garage. New members joined the team (and the company) year after year. Everyone who worked on the e-M3 works also on the Concept_One. We are a small company which is more like a family so everyone works on every project.
Have you worked on any previous projects with Adriano Mudri? How did the collaboration with Mudri as the Lead Designer for the Concept_One come about?
I have meet Adriano when I was searching for a designer for the Concept_One. He is, just like me, a perfectionist so it was not always easy to satisfy his quality standards in the production, especially with our tight schedule and budget. But on the other hand, I am now glad that the car looks perfect even in the smallest detail.
I was setting the design goals, our engineering set the packaging (so the space which is used for mechanic and electric components). Adriano had to work within those parameters. As everyone knows, there are always some conflicts between the design and engineering part of the team but we have managed to find solutions and finish the car while satisfying both the look and technical part.
Can you tell us about the all wheel torque vectoring in the Concept_One? Does it mean each wheel can rotate at different rotational speeds independent of the other?
Traditional cars need to rotate the wheels at different speeds because of the different diameters while going through a corner. That is the reason why cars have differentials.
The Torque Vectoring System takes care of the speed differences (so it is a “virtual differential”). At the same time, it controls the torque of each wheel separately. The Torque Vectoring opens new possibilities in terms of controlling the vehicle dynamics. You can have a completely different handling by pressing a button. You can choose between understeer, oversteer or neutral handling.
When the Concept_One goes into production, will it continue to have the same name?
Probably not. We will release the final name next year.
Why have you fixed a limit of only 88 units this year?
People who buy such a car expect exclusivity. We are guaranteeing them the exclusivity by limiting the production.
The number 88 is chosen because the car has a power of 1088 hp.
We understand some of the big names in the automotive industry have come together to design a ‘Universal Charging System‘ for electric vehicles. Do you see Concept_One adopting such a system in the future?
We are using EU-standardized Level 2 and Level 3 charging plugs. We are also working on the implementation of the Chademo DC fast charging protocol.
We know you must have spent quite some time brainstorming about the choice of materials for various components of the Concept_One. Aluminium and Carbon fibre seem to be in abundance. Can you give us an insight into how tough that was?
I wanted to build the best car possible. If you want to build the best car, you have to use the best technology and materials.
Some of the most exotic automotive brands have finally arrived in India. When do you think we can see a Rimac on the roads in India?
I am not sure about the homologation standards in India. If the European homologation is valid in India, we will offer the car on that market also as soon as production starts.
The name Rimac is no longer just about you, the individual. Rimac is now a global brand. How does that feel?
I’m very proud. That’s everything I worked for, that’s my dream come true.
Riot Engine wishes you the very best for the Concept_One. Thank you for your time!
Thank you for the interview.