‘They’re Pushing Stuff on Us That We Don’t Want’: The Most Spectacular Electric Car Isn't Selling, and Its Manufacturer Knows Why

  • Mate Rimac, CEO of Rimac Group, condemns the policies that try to encourage customers to transition to electric vehicles.

  • He believes that such efforts are actually driving users away from the technology.

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The transition to electric (or, at least, partly electric) cars in the luxury market is still being met by resistance from some brands—specifically, those that have made gasoline supercars their hallmark. The most radical and purist car manufacturers are having a hard time going electric–even as other brands welcome the change with open arms.

Rimac. Rimac is a special brand. It's still young. It was founded in 2009 after its owner modified a BMW 3 Series (the E30) and turned it into a real electric missile. Mate Rimac, now the CEO of Rimac Group, was 19 years old at the time, and it didn't take long for him to attract the attention of other car giants. In just two years, Rimac's company was up and running.

Companies like Porsche and Hyundai, which have made a strong commitment to electrification, make up an important part of Rimac's shareholders. Their support has helped Rimac get off the ground and serves as a representation of the hope people have in the company. However, the partnership and the idea to develop a hypercar didn't come to fruition until 2018.

The Nevera. In 2018, Rimac officially announced its Nevera, an electric hypercar that put drivers at the wheel of a sort of spaceship with 1,914 horsepower. The Nevera achieved this impressive punch with four motors, one per wheel, and a torque of 2,360 Nm that must have delivered quite a staggering kick.

The rest of its stats were equally amazing. It could go from 0 to 60 mph in 1.85 seconds, with a max speed of 258 mph. A Nevera driver would only have to wait 4.3 seconds to go from 0 to 100 mph. Meanwhile, teaching 186 mph would take 9.3 seconds.

Its battery capacity seems small by today’s standards, with 120 kWh of charge that promised 342 miles of WLTP range. However–and this is also standard for a supercar–the company claimed that it could reach a charging power of 500 kW. With a battery like that, it could recharge from 0 to 80% in only 22 minutes.

150 units. That's is the number that Rimac announced when it started to sell its product. It was a very limited production, with each car costing more than $2 million. A fair price? Too expensive? What we can say for sure is that customers thought that 150 units were too many units.

Rimac, the company’s CEO, has recently confirmed that the company isn't meeting its goals. At the Financial Times’ Future of the Car conference in early May, he said: “An Apple Watch can do everything better. It can do a thousand more things, it’s a lot more precise, it can measure your heart rate. But nobody would pay 200,000 dollars for an Apple Watch.”

Rimac explained that the customers who buy ultra-luxury vehicles don't really want to pay for an electric car. “The regulators and some OEMs [manufacturers] push it so much that the narrative has changed. They’re pushing stuff on us that we don’t want, so people get a little bit repulsed by it, this whole forced application,” he points out.

The CEO also admitted that buying his sports car also entails joining a movement: that of the electric car, which is now experiencing a recession in terms of sales. “We started to develop [the] Nevera in 2016/2017, when electric was cool.”

vehiculo electrico en un paisaje

Ups. While making the leap hasn't been easy for some players in the car industry, for others, embracing the electric car has proven to be very profitable—despite the counterintuitive nature of the offer. Porsche, for instance, has been a clear example of success with the sales of its Taycan, and expects the sales of its electric vehicles to be a huge, ever-growing source of income.

And Lotus, for example, with its commitment to combustion and lightness–at the expense of the power favored by some of its rivals–is also seeing good results with its Eletre, a very heavy electric SUV supercar that blurs any connection that the brand might have with its past. Ferrari, too, has high hopes for the electric vehicles.

And downs. Motorpasión makes an interesting reflection on why electric cars may not work; one with which I partly agree and which suggests that this kind of car, designed to be enjoyed with family and friends on weekend getaways, are more fun when accompanied by the roar of a powerful combustion engine.

I would add, however, that this must be framed within the luxury brands that are very niche. In this case, Rimac presented itself as an electric option for those who really, truly love sports cars; the purists who strive for the most intense sensations. It's in this space where the electric vehicle still doesn't measure up to the traditional combustion car.

A lesson. We must add that, among the most exclusive vehicles, the combustion engine is still the preferred option, and this will probably continue to be the case for many years. Brands such as Porsche or Ferrari have shown that combustion vehicles, with extraordinary engines like the V12, will be the ones that sell best when it comes to very limited editions (at very high prices).

To a large extent, these types of ultra-luxury vehicles are bought as an investment for the future, not so much as an everyday vehicle. It's in that market where the electric car is more than just a fad, even if it struggles to find a place in an area where the classic car still reigns.

If almost a decade ago the electric car was a booming trend–according to Rimac himself–the measures that are being taken in terms of pollution control are likely to turn the purest combustion vehicle into a kind of unicorn that truly wealthy customers would be willing to pay a considerable sum for. Symbols of status come at a price, and it seems that the great combustion engines are on their way to become precisely that, more than ever before.

Image | Rimac

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