Silicon Valley closed its doors to him and now they compare him to Elon Musk
Mate Rimac runs an electric car company that sells some of the most exotic cars on the planet, but it all started with a very rare old thing.
Using parts from a forklift, he turned an aging BMW, nicknamed the Green Monster, into a test lab for the electrical technology he was developing.
The converted BMW began competing in motorsport events and won against conventionally powered cars. For a time it was the fastest electric vehicle in the world.
Two years later, in 2009, he created his company. “I wanted to build a car, that’s all I wanted to do,” says the entrepreneur.
It’s worth saying that Mate Rimac is not your average auto industry executive.
The bearded, stylish 33-year-old might be a better fit among Silicon Valley’s emerging celebrities. In fact, he regularly draws comparisons to Tesla’s Elon Musk.
However, he stayed in his native Croatia. His company, Rimac Automobili, is based in Sveta Nedelja, a small town on the outskirts of the capital, Zagreb.
The technology and knowledge developed there are rapidly gaining favor with established manufacturers in different parts of the world.
Rimac Automobili is best known for building ultra-exclusive electric hypercars (they are called hypercars because they are on the cusp of supercars, in terms of their high performance and cutting edge technology).
The Concept One model, first introduced in 2011, had a top speed of 354 kilometers per hour. Only eight were made, and one of them was destroyed when television host Richard Hammond went off the road during a competition in Switzerland.
Its successor, the C_Two model, is even more extreme, with a declared top speed of 415 kilometers per hour (and capable of accelerating from 0 to 97 km / h in 1.85 seconds).
As it will go on sale this year, it is expected to have an estimated price of US $ 2.4 million.
The cars developed by your company are extraordinary, by any measure. But they are only part of Rimac’s business model.
Increasingly, the company is establishing itself as a technology provider for other manufacturers, with the aim of helping them build their own high-performance electric cars.
“Because we didn’t have investors on board, we had to generate income from day one,” explains Rimac.
“That’s when we realized that people don’t want to invest in a boutique hypercar company, they want to invest in a business that can be expanded.”
By selling technology and expertise to other manufacturers, he explains, he was able to create a source of financing that could sustain and grow.
One thing that Mate Rimac has in common with many of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs is that he started working in his garage.
In his case, however, instead of developing a website, he built his electric Green Monster.
The next step was to design a new car. However, setting up an automotive company in Croatia was going to be a great challenge.
“I couldn’t hire anyone to do something with the cars,” he recalls. “I went to the University of Zagreb and told them that I wanted to build a car,” he says.
“They told me that it was not possible to build a car in Croatia and advised me that ‘the sooner you give up, the less people will go under with you.’
Nor was it able to access Silicon Valley financing networks.
“I went to Silicon Valley just once to ask for money, to talk to investors,” he explains.
“They were totally disinterested. This happened eight years ago when electric cars were not in vogue. They were just investing in social media, they didn’t want to touch electric cars.”
“Today it is totally the other way around. They are all pouring huge amounts of money into electric cars based on the success of Tesla.”
However, he found powerful backing. In early 2018, German sports car maker Porsche acquired a 10% stake in its firm, which was later increased to 15.5%.
This came at a time when Porsche’s parent company, the Volkswagen Group, had already started investing tens of billions of dollars in its own electric car technology.
But Porsche, which was developing its own electric sports car, wanted to tap into Rimac’s specific expertise in designing high-performance powertrains and batteries.
“It started developing electric vehicles years before us,” explains Porsche Vice President and CFO Lutz Meschke.
“Our investment has proven to be the right one. The value of the company has increased many times since we joined. In addition, it has performed very well in terms of technology.”
Two other companies in the sector have also joined. In May 2019, Korean automaker Hyundai and sister company Kia agreed together to invest $ 96 million.
With that investment, they acquired an unspecified stake in Rimac, as well as a technical association. Now the firm is working with both companies to help them develop new electric vehicles.
According to independent automotive analyst Matthias Schmidt, the way governments are trying to phase out conventional gasoline and diesel cars presents a huge opportunity for the Croatian firm.
“Car companies are forced to develop electric cars,” he explains.
“The really big guys like Volkswagen and Stellantis can do it. But the mid-ranks just don’t have the funds to do it themselves, so they have little choice but to buy the technology from elsewhere.”
For his part, David Bailey, a professor of industrial strategy at the University of Birmingham, believes the auto-manufacturing business itself could still generate revenue.
“Mate Rimac is seen as a true disruptor,” he explains.
“Their company has come out of nowhere, their products are really exciting, and they have built a brand around hypercars.”
He believes the brand could now be used to sell electric supercars, machines that can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, rather than millions.
“Technology is developing so fast that I think Rimac has a real role to play here,” he says.
“I think that could be quite lucrative.”
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BBC-NEWS-SRC: https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-56099752, IMPORTING DATE: 2021-03-03 12:20:05