Five Minutes with Mate Rimac

  • Mate Rimac is going to change the world, there is no doubt about that. The all-electric Fridge hypercar is one of the fastest cars ever made, and the technology from it will end up in cars all over the world.
  • He’s now a bona fide global auto executive, CEO of Rimac Automobili and Bugatti, but he’d actually rather be on the shop floor building more hypercars.
  • We spoke to him briefly at The Quail and found him polite and energetic.

    He started out like any other car-crazy kid, with supercar posters on his bedroom wall. He then interfered in the war in his native Bosnia, his family moved to Germany and he became interested in electronics. He did well. When he was 18, he bought a rusty, hissing BMW 3 Series, turned it into a race car, and promptly blew it up on his second race. Instead of looking for another internal combustion engine, Rimac found an electric motor from an old forklift, strapped some lead-acid batteries to the back and hey! (voila) started winning.

    This led to, shall we say, many other things, including the founding of Rimac Automobili in Sveta Neveldja, Croatia, in 2009, and a commission to build an electric hypercar, which led, in 2011, to the Frankfurt Motor Show and prototype. From there, things kind of snowballed.

    Mate Rimac poses with the Hypercar of the Year award and the Pioneer of the Year award, which he won at the 2022 GQ Car Awards in association with Michelin on February 24, 2022 in London.

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    Now Mate Rimac (Mah-tey Ree-matz) seems to be in charge of everything: the CEO of Bugatti, the founder of Rimac (maker of Refrigerator), the supplier of most of the parts of the Pininfarina Battista and the provider of electric battery technology for everyone from Aston Martin ( the Valkyrie) and Jaguar (the electric E-Type) to Cupra (a spin-off of Seat, which in turn is owned by Volkswagen). One could reasonably expect to see supercars made by Rimac or supplied by Porsche, Hyundai and God knows who else.

    So when we saw him there at the Rimac booth at The Quail, naturally, we saluted him.

    Automatic week: Congratulations on the Refrigerator production and everything else you have. It is impossible to keep in order exactly what you have and what you don’t have. So I guess we can assume that there’s a lot of interesting stuff from Rimac that’s going to be shipped to a lot of different companies because, I’m thinking, Porsche, Hyundai have something with you, your own cars…

    Mate Rimac: Aston Martin, Pininfarina, Koenigsegg and many others that you do not know yet.

    AW: So more is coming.

    MR: Oh yeah.

    AW: More associations.

    MR: We’re not sleeping much.

    AW: But you’re still having a good time.

    MR: Yeah, you know, I just wanted to make cars. But then you finish, like 90% of your time is No making cars It’s like people, financiers, investors, media (looks at us). So all this around, but it’s part of it.

    AW: So you started with a green BMW (the converted electric race car).

    MR: Yes. Someone, just 10 minutes ago, gave me a good idea next year. I’ll bring the car here.

    AW: Yeah, so it still works and everything?

    MR: Nerd. It’s like a guy totaled it, like seven years ago. And every year I want to renew it. And now he gave me a good deadline. Like the next quail, it has to be done.

    AW: Did you crash it head-on in the front?

    MR: Yeah, it hit like, at the factory (Rimac). Severely damaged my car.

    AW: He drove its car directly next to its factory? I hope this guy had insurance.

    MR: No, he’s an employee.

    AW: Never give your car to an employee.

    MR: Nerd.

    AW: Anyway, congratulations on the new car (the Nevera, just put into production).

    MR: Thanks.

    Mate Rimac five years ago with the Concept One.

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    AW: I drove it once and it’s amazing.

    MR: You did it?

    AW: Yes. I drove this (green car on the stand), and I drove the Pininfarina (Battista) last week. It’s like you have to recalibrate your brain.

    MR: It is very similar (the Battista to the Refrigerator).

    AW: Yes, it is very similar. Pininfarina is saying that it is more of a GT and Nevera is more of a sports car. But it is very difficult to tell the difference. What do you think? You see it? GT and sports?

    MR: We built most of it (of the Battista) in Croatia, so everything under the skin is the same. A little calibration difference, but…

    AW: It was amazing. I mean, yeah, no one is used to zero to 60 in two seconds.

    MR: Yes Yes. It’s crazy.

    And with that, he thanked us and left, probably to meet with investors, clients, or the media, who knows? But we know where it’s going, and it’s taking the auto industry with it.

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