If Tesla Motors is shaking in its boots, the company gave no indication. But a contender will soon be on the loose. This week, Rimac Automobili — a high-end electric car startup based in Croatia (of all places) — announced it would unveil the production version of its Concept_One supercar at the Geneva Motor Show next month.
The specs on this car are out of this world. First, stop reading now if you’re scared by the $936,000 (850,000 euros) price. But equally scary is 1,088 horsepower under the hood, enabling zero to 62 mph time of 2.6 seconds. It keeps on accelerating scarily fast until it reaches a top speed of 221 mph.
Did I mention it’s an electric car?
Miroslav Zrncevic, marketing coordinator for Rimac, tells me that only eight of the cars will be made, and that six of them are already spoken for, so get your order in quick! Rimac is planning to offer cars in the U.S. market — but will that be where the deepest pockets are? “We sell the cars all over the world,” Zrncevic said. “We also do Greyp bikes, and those are sold on five continents and in more than 20 countries, so we don’t have a general rule on what is the biggest market.”
A question about gunning for Tesla was dismissed. “No, we don’t compare ourselves to big car companies,” Zrncevic said. “We have high respect for them, but we are a technology company and we make hypercars — with electric powertrains. Our customers vary, some of them are tech fans, some of them are supercar lovers. The Concept_One opens a whole new market for the people who not only love new technology but love to drive and have a high passion for cars. The Concept_One is a completely new driving experience.”
Indeed, it should drive like no other car, and it's because of a unique layout. Rimac is proud of its all-wheel torque vectoring system, which measures (via sensors on the chassis and suspension) and sends the optimum torque to each wheel. In the center of both axles are two big, permanent magnet electric motors, each one with its own F1-style two-speed transmission. The car has more than 500 sensors in total, and they’re designed to give the driver all kinds of information on how he did on track day. The 4G link is used to store the data in the cloud.
The driver can choose a variety of drive modes, from terrifying to ludicrous. (Sorry, Tesla owns that word). The company says “calm and neutral” to “extreme drift” — for making tire-squealing videos and “having fun on a closed track.” Also controllable by the driver (with buttons “machined from billet aluminium”) is brake force distribution. I haven’t driven the Rimac (though I saw one in Florida), but I’m sure it’s a heart-in-mouth experience.
“Almost the whole car can be customized,” Zrncevic said. Want your Concept_One with wild boar hides and a $10,000 stereo system? Why not? That’s what buying automobiles on this level is all about.
Mate Rimac, the founder and CEO, says he was after something more than “an electric version of existing supercars … I wanted to create technology to make the supercar of the 21st century — better in every regard, faster, more fun and more efficient.”
The price puts this electric car out of reach for the average Greenpeace member, but corporate titans or movie stars who care about the planet might buy one of the two left.
By the way, The Concept_One is not the only red-blooded supercar showcasing at Geneva. Also there will be the 780-horsepower Dubai-based Lykan HyperSport, which is actually more exclusive than Rimac's car — only seven of them will be built. You may remember it as the car that drove across two Middle Eastern skyscraper towers in the "Fast and Furious" movie.
Here's a look at the Concept_One's all-wheel torque vectoring system on video: