Visionary, inventor, designer, innovator, entrepreneur, huge car enthusiast, and brilliant pioneer of electric hypercars. Some have even compared him to Elon Musk and Nikola Tesla.
These are just some of the words used to describe Mate Rimac, the 33-year-old Bosnian-Croatian who founded Rimac Automobili in 2009 and who now finds himself leading the new Bugatti-Rimac joint venture along with Porsche.
He dreamed of cars and invented new tech gadgets
Mate Rimac's life and story seem to have come straight out of a novel, a tale of times gone by in which a very young Mate immediately showed an interest in inventing and cars, the latter being a real rarity in Bosnia at the end of the 1980s, which had few roads.
Born in Livno (Bosnia-Herzegovina) in 1988, he moved with his family to Germany when he was three years old, then returned to settle in Croatia. There, he completed his studies and enrolled at VERN' University in Zagreb. Before turning 18, Mate won several international competitions for innovation and technical development in Germany, South Korea, and Croatia. One of his first invention patents was for the "iGlove," a digital glove that could replace a mouse and keyboard. This was, of course, long before touch screens.
The record-breaking Rimac e-M3
His passion for cars and racing led him to buy an old 1984 BMW 323i (E30) in 2006 and enter the fray of local races with it. The engine broke down almost immediately and this led to Mate's idea of using a 600-bhp electric motor to create one of the first competition EVs, the Rimac e-M3. This also became the development mule for his first supercar.
At first, the results were not that great, but in 2010 he won his first race against petrol cars and his unique BMW-turned-electric set a series of acceleration records recognised by the FIA and the Guinness Book of Records in 2011.
Rimac e-M3 FIA records
- 1/8 mile: 7.549 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 11.808 seconds
- 1/2 km: 13.714 seconds
- 1 km: 23.260 seconds
- 1 mile: 35.347 seconds
From Concept_One to the 1,888-bhp Nevera
In the meantime, his company Rimac Automobili, which until 2010 consisted only of Mate and the designer Adriano Mudri, began working on the project to make the first electric supercar. With original funding from members of the United Arab Emirates royal family, the Rimac Concept_One debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011 with an initial power figure of 1,088 bhp. That output would increase to 1,224 bhp in the final version.
Production of the Concept_One stopped at just eight examples, but Mate and his team are now preparing to begin manufacturing the freshly unveiled Rimac Nevera, their second electric supercar, which makes 1,888 bhp and tops out at 412 km/h (256 mph). Production of the Nevera will be limited to 150 units.
Becoming a supplier of electrification components for OEMs
Returning to the philosophy of life and entrepreneurship of Mate Rimac, we discovered that the production of electric supercars and hypercars is not the most important of his goals – on the contrary. As he said in an interview with Automotive News Europe, his most ambitious project (along with the next Bugatti) is to become the main supplier of electric and electrified systems for all major manufacturers, especially those who want to develop new high-performance EVs.
To date, Rimac Automobili can already boast a long series of collaborations and joint projects initiated with various automakers and suppliers for the development of components or entire electric traction systems. Here are the official ones:
- Aston Martin
Rimac Automobili, a 795-million euro company
At the moment, Rimac Automobili is a company with almost 1,000 employees and an estimated value of 795 million euros, headquartered in Sveta Nedelja, near Zagreb, Croatia. Its ownership is divided as follows:
- Mate Rimac (37%)
- Porsche (24%)
- Hyundai (12%)
- Other investors (27%)
Musk, Tesla, Koenigsegg, and Pagani are among his heroes
Finally, here's a look at the legendary individuals who have inspired Mate Rimac's work, as reported in an interview with Automotive News Europe in January 2020:
I feel the greatest affinity with Elon Musk, but when I started on this path I also looked up to Nikola Tesla; after all, I am Croatian like him. At the beginning, Christian von Koenigsegg and Horacio Pagani were my heroes too, but today we are friends and work together.
Gallery: Mate Rimac, his history, his cars
Gallery: Mate Rimac, his history, his cars
Sources: Automotive News Europe, Options, Hotcars