Rimac Concept 1
“The Super Car of the 21st Century”
As Winter approached, I learned that my parents were planning a 2 week trip in the Spring to the “old country”, Croatia. For those of us that are geographically challenged with European countries, Croatia is located on the Adriatic Sea directly across from Italy. My mother’s parents hailed from Croatia before passing thru Ellis Island and settling in New York City. Anyway, this is their second trip back where they are afforded the opportunity to reconnect with relatives, catch up on some sight-seeing and experience life outside the States. As for me, to borrow a line from Joe Walsh’s song Life’s Been Good; “Ain’t never been there, they tell me it’s nice….”
During an internet research session on Croatia, I stumbled upon an upstart supercar manufacturer located in the country’s capital of Zagreb, called Rimac. Their first offering is named the “Concept One” and is 100% powered by electric. Before, you dismiss this as some tree hugger’s import… I’ll tell you straight up, this ain’t your neighbor’s Prius. The Concept One has four motors, one powering each wheel, propelling the car from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds. While it’s electronically limited to 190 mph, it develops a staggering 1088 horsepower and a mind-blowing 2800 ft-lb of torque.
Mate Rimac, the 25 year old founder, has always had a passion for electronics and has long revered Nikola Tesla, a fellow countryman, electrical engineer and inventor (Radio, Alternating Current, Electric Motor, Remote Control, and Florescent Bulbs, to name a few). Mate, won several international competitions for an electronic glove he devised in high school that functions as a keyboard and mouse, and he developed an idea for a car mirror system that eliminated blind spots, which he licensed to a European automotive supplier. After blowing the engine in his BMW E30, he decided to marry his passion for cars and electronics and taking a page from Tesla’s book, rebuilt the car with electric motors, because it’s a source of instant power which he felt would yield a superior sports car. Mate states; “It wasn’t about making the car environmentally friendly, the performance is just much better.” That car, his BMW holds the record, as verified by Guinness as the world’s fastest accelerating electric automobile.
At the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, the unveiling of the Concept One drew hundreds of journalists as well as employees of the established car companies. BMW, Tesla, Audi, and Fisker were all surprised at what an unknown private start-up company had managed to build an electric supercar with technology that surpassed even the most competitive and well financed car manufacturers.
Starting with a blank piece of paper, Rimac designed a platform to around the powertrain and battery pack, rather than utilizing a platform originally developed for an internal combustion engine. The entire car is constructed of carbon fiber (monocoque, sub-frame and body panels), which affords the car the desired rigidity, while providing the power to weight ratio of a Formula 1 car and a useable cruising range of 370 miles per charge (30 minute recharge). The battery is a high-performance 92 kW unit which can deliver or receive (during Regen-braking) over one Megawatt of power constantly, which makes it suitable for race-track use. It employs a technology called “All Wheel Torque Vectoring”, which means that each wheel can independently accelerate or decelerate hundreds of times per second, helping the driver achieve the desired driving style (cruising / understeer or performance / oversteer). In all, Rimac plans to produce 88 copies of the Concept One, costing $980,000 each. They plan to offer a new model every two or three years. This is definitely going to be a company to watch, as their technological prowess will soon be shaping the automotive landscape of the more established manufacturers.