Have you heard of Rimac? Well, if you’re a fast-car nerd, you likely will have – same goes if you’re a green car person because Rimac is a Croatian car company that, until now, has been solely invested in building ultra-fast EV vehicles. Remember what happened to The Grand Tour’s Richard Hammond before the first season? When he crashed off a cliff? That was in something called the Rimac Concept One, a 1,000 hp-plus electric hypercar.
While that brought Rimac to the attention of car enthusiasts, it appears the company has now gained the attention of the big boys at Hyundai and Kia, as both manufacturers have, according to EVO magazine, invested 69.5 million pounds (80 million Euros; 64 million from Hyundai, 16 million from Kia) in Rimac. The goal? To jointly develop prototypes for a high-performance fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) as well as a mid-engined EV for Hyundai’s N performance brand. Well, since it’s an EV, I guess “mid-motored” is more apt; either way, we should be seeing the first fruits of this partnership by 2020.
While they may be calling them “prototypes” at this juncture, Hyundai has previously announced an electrification plan (well, who hasn’t, really) that they say will see them deploy 44 eco-friendly models by 2025; the two Rimac collabos would definitely fit under that banner.
The fuel cell connection, meanwhile, is also something Hyundai knows a bit about as they’ve been developing fuel cell vehicles for use by regular joes like you and me since 2015, when they released a fuel cell version of the Tucson crossover. More recently, they’ve developed an all-new fuel cell-specific platform now being used for the NEXO crossover. They definitely have a leg-up in this department, but it will be interesting to see how they deal with hydrogen storage in the new car; while they haven’t specified, “high-performance” it doesn’t really speak “SUV” to me, so they’re going to have to find a place for those tanks.
You have to think that the real big winner here could be Rimac; it’s great that they’ve managed to build two vehicles for the ultra-rich, but with the addition of a little Korean know-how, they could very well open the door to a whole new and much more mass-market vehicle segment.