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Future Europe features a podcast episode from each of the EU’s 28 Member States. Each episode tells the story of a project that illuminates the way Europeans will live in the future. All the stories are told through the voices of people involved in the projects.
Fastest electric car neither ugly nor slow
“When I started to do this, electric cars were considered ugly and slow,” Mate Rimac tells Future Europe, “so I wanted to prove they could be fun and exciting and fast - even faster than combustion engine cars, and I thought - I want to build my own car!”
Mate’s company is named after himself. Rimac is Croatia’s sole home-grown carmaker and manufacturer of cutting edge battery technology.
Fascinated by electronics and automobiles from an early age, he has taken the company from very modest beginnings in his garage to a global leader at the vanguard of developments in e-commerce and battery technology. It all started with one simple goal, he says: “to make the next generation of sports car.”
An electric hypercar
He has been true to his word. In 2011, the company launched its Concept One ‘Hyper-car’, the most powerful road-going electric vehicle in the world. “It was not just the fastest electric car. It was accelerating faster than any car ever built.”
From an original team of six, the company, based near Zagreb, now has over four hundred employees drawn from 26 countries and is growing all the time. But such rapid expansion has required significant investment and obtaining the funds to keep Rimac rolling was a challenge.
“The owner of these premises, which we previously rented, asked us to purchase the place”, explains Rimac CFO Ivan Bilić, “so we were in a spot because we didn't have the cash to buy it.”
The company decided to approach HBOR, the Croatian National Development Bank that works as a local partner for the European Investment Bank. The EIB does not finance the development of specific car models. The EU bank does, however, finance general purpose technology for clean transport.
Fastest electric car pushes limits in every way
Rimac’s new C2 is now entering production. It boasts an incredible top speed of 412kph. “It really pushes the limits in every way”, explains Mate, “and is on the edge of what is physically and technologically possible today”.
The EIB aims to support the company’s future growth as the company builds and expands its research and manufacturing capability.
The technology has wide applications, according to company CFO Bilić. “These engines can be used to pull significant weights. They can be used in trains, in buses. All of these components have very practical uses for tomorrow.”
The EIB’s Jean-Marc Martin believes the future looks bright for Rimac and for electric powered vehicles. “If by investing in this project we are contributing indirectly to the further research, development, testing and roll-out of improved, enhanced battery technology, then I think we’re definitely on the right track.