Building a concept car is a tricky endeavor, even under the best of circumstances, because it requires a significant investment in time and resources. When the organization is a start-up rather than an established manufacturer, and it's led by a very, very young engineer, the task looks even more daunting. But Rimac Automobili founder Mate Rimac strongly believes in the potential of electric cars, and set out to prove that they can deliver power and reliability worthy of his claim that the Concept_One is "the sports car of the 21st century" [source: Isaccson].
Mate Rimac decided to design from scratch, and hand-build, the best car possible. He started working on the Concept_One when he was just 21 years old [source: Rimac Automobili]. The Concept_One is an ambitious project for an engineer of Rimac's age, but he had a string of earlier accomplishments that helped fuel his fire. Rimac began winning international engineering competitions in high school. At age 19, he converted a 1984 BMW E30 to electric power, and the car holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for fastest electric car. The BMW project was financed by a new car mirror system that Rimac designed and licensed to an auto parts manufacturer.
Rimac was inspired by Nikola Tesla, the electrical engineer whose inventions have stoked the fire for other automakers (including one automaker that, not coincidentally, shares his name). Rimac admits that there's nothing environmentally friendly about his car, and that power and performance are the real motivation behind the Concept_One [source: Isaccson]. An electric motor just happens to be simpler than a traditional internal combustion engine, and the electric power source delivers instant gratification.
Since electric cars were initially all about efficiency, they were sized and styled to match that image. Tesla might have been the first auto manufacturer to make people realize that a fully electric car could still deliver solid performance, and at a price that was easy for most luxury car shoppers to swallow. The Rimac Concept_One, however, is a whole different story. With a $980,000 price tag and amazing performance specs, this car isn't even attempting to masquerade as a responsible choice. And if you've got almost a million dollars to spend on a supercar, you'll find that electric is still better than gasoline ... but it would take a lot of solar panels and wind turbines to feed 1,088 ponies that are capable of leaving a Ferrari in the dust. Top speed is 190 miles per hour (305.8 kilometers per hour), according to Rimac, and the car can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 96.6 kilometers per hour) in just 2.8 seconds. These numbers fall just shy of the Bugatti Veyron.
The Rimac Concept_One is anticipated to be for sale by the end of 2015, with a projected production run of only 88 units. A prototype has been built, but production versions of the Concept_One haven't been completed yet -- the company is currently taking reservations and deposits.