Some Twentysomethings Like to Party ...
... while others build million-dollar sports cars.
There are plenty of obvious reasons why the Concept_One is a worthy object of lust, but young, aspiring car designers should pay attention to Rimac for yet another reason. The designer of the Concept_One, Mate Rimac, is just 24 years old. An example of Rimac's previous work on vehicles includes a BMW converted to electric power -- one that was capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 miles per hour (96.6 kilometers per hour) in just 3.3 seconds and achieving a top speed of 174 miles per hour (280 kilometers per hour). This was initially a personal project, but it turned into a manifesto of sorts for the company that would form around it. The BMW build took six months with parts that were already available, but they couldn't deliver the performance Mate Rimac needed for his personal racing. Whenever something broke, Rimac designed and made his own parts, improving the car's speed and reliability. The electric E30 got enough attention that an investor approached Rimac and asked him to start a car company, resulting in the development of the Concept_One.
Rimac Automobili, based in Croatia, is now a small start-up with a hands-on culture. Experienced auto industry types have shown they aren't a good fit for the company's approach (with the exception of the head of the sales department, who joined Rimac after working with Tesla Motors). Rimac says that the company had a huge advantage since they were working from a clean slate. Though there were potential investors, cash flow was still tight, so Rimac's team had to be careful, especially considering they had a self-imposed deadline to complete the prototype in time for the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011. The prototype featured luxury touches, like self-closing doors and a camera system that replaced the mirrors. Rimac Automobili designs almost all of the parts for the Concept_One, and most of the components are also manufactured in-house. These skills come in handy, because Rimac Automobili also supplies components to other vehicle manufacturers. The company has supplied batteries to a train manufacturer and is working on an innovative new brake system technology. Rimac also plans to produce its electric motors for other auto manufacturers, and is working on an $8,000 electric bicycle. This strategy is necessary to keep the company going, since Rimac Automobili doesn't have the government subsidies or bank loans that keep other vehicle manufacturers (especially electric vehicle makers) afloat when cash flow is low and future sales are only theoretical.
The small yet dynamic company perceives the Concept_One as a supercar competitor, rather than chasing after the handful of well-heeled, yet environmentally sympathetic, fans of electric cars. And despite Mate Rimac's deep and open admiration of Nikola Tesla, he doesn't consider Tesla Motors a factor in, or a motivation for, his company's potential success. Like Tesla Motors, though, Rimac Automobili is working on new models and trying to find ways to bring down the car's sticker price. And Mate Rimac has said that it's important to keep the company headquarters in Croatia, to provide opportunities for other young Croatians.