Photo: Options
Mate Rimac: Biography, Personal Life, Family and Career - Photo: Options

Who is Mate Rimac - Biography

The phrase “youth is wasted on the young” — often attributed to Irish playwright and political activist George Bernard Shaw — is applied derisively to young people with an apparent lack of perception for temporal nonlinearity. To challenge and indeed counter that generalisation, I have just two words: Mate Rimac. Having founded the world’s first electrical supercar company, Rimac Automobili, three years ago at the age of 27, Mate was selected as Croatian Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017 by Ernst and Young Croatia. Although he didn’t win the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year prize last June in Monaco, he did turn heads for achieving so much, so early on in life.

Based in the Austro-Hungarian city of Zagreb, Rimac’s electric cars are not only efficient and environmentally friendly, but also luxuriously well-appointed, beautifully designed and thoroughly performance-driven. Mate’s goal is to build an automotive company in his native Croatia — which has never had a car industry, and very few technology-based ones — that produces cars to outperform the powerful petrol-guzzlers from the likes of Bugatti, McLaren and Lamborghini.

Mate Rimac: Early Life

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.

Rimac later admitted that if it wasn’t for his high-school professor Ivan Vlainić, who pushed him to compete at electronics and innovation competitions, he might have never built a company as those early successes taught him how to build something and have self-confidence. Being fascinated by cars all his life and wanting to enter into the world of racing, Rimac bought a 1984 BMW E30 323i at the age of 18 in 2006 as that seemed to be the cheapest way to get into racing. After the gasoline engine exploded during one race, he decided to turn the car into an electric one, inspired by the innovations of his idol Nikola Tesla. His peers mocked him for racing with an electric car – for bringing a "washing machine" to the race track.

Mate Rimac: Career and Achievement

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Using the money he earned from the awards he won with his iGlove, Rimac bought his first car at the age of eighteen, a used BMW E30 323i in white. He would frequently use the car in motor racing until one day its engine exploded. Despite that setback, he saw this as an opportunity to combine two of his biggest passions, electronics and cars. Instead of replacing the E30's engine with another gas engine, he decided to convert it into an electric race car.

Rimac would work on the car in his parents' garage and sourced most parts from the Internet. After many hours of hard work, the car was finally complete. It was ready to race against gasoline powered cars with new electric motors producing 593 horsepower and a bright shade of green. Of course, his first few attempts didn't go so well, as the car would break down often. After each failed attempt, Rimac returned to his parents' garage and fixed each problem while adding extra improvements the car in order to unlock its maximum potential. He would also replace existing parts with new parts developed and built by himself.

Overtime, the car got better and better after each race. It was the first time that an electric car would be placed in the same class as gas powered cars. The electric E30 would beat many gasoline-powered cars on the drag strip. In 2010, Rimac's electric E30 won in a competition out of 300 cars after securing the fastest time recorded. In 2012, Rimac's E30 broke a Guinness World Record for the fastest quarter-mile time done by an electric car, clocking in just 11 seconds. He also broke a FIA record for the fastest accelerating electric car in Category A, Group VIII for electric vehicles, and in Class 3 for vehicles weighing over 1,000 kilograms.

From Concept_One to the almost 2,000-hp 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 horsepower. That output would increase to 1,224 hp 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 1,940 hp and tops out at 412 km/h (256 mph). Production of the Nevera will be limited to 150 units.

Financial troubles

Rimac would go through financial turmoil soon after the release of the Concept One. The company ran out of money to cover development costs. They couldn't pay for their rent or electricity, so the company was basically on the brink of collapse. Rimac personally flew to Abu Dhabi to negotiate with the Gulf investors to invest even more into the company to keep it afloat. However, they said that Rimac would need to move the company and all of its assets to the United Arab Emirates in order to get funding.

Despite Rimac really needing the money, he declined the offer. He also had a motivation to do something good for his home country of Croatia, and to show the world that it is possible to start a car company and build a car there. He was motivated to give Croatia's automobile industry a huge boost.

In the end, Rimac didn't get the additional investment, and his company was left alone in the dark...


Rimac wouldn't let his company slowly die. He had gone so far into the project that it would be a horrible decision to back out at this point. Instead of injecting the remaining amount of money into developing new parts for his car, Rimac would reach out to suppliers, as it was cheaper and a more business-friendly option.

Rimac would reach out to multiple suppliers, but most of them would decline. However, a few investors were willing to supply him some new parts. However the cost of access to those parts were still phenomenally high, and Rimac had almost little to no money left. Rimac noticed that the parts that his company developed were far more advanced compared to anything else offered on the market today, so he decided to become a supplier of electric motors himself in order to fund his company.

Rimac would assemble a team to develop electric motors and parts to be supplied to other companies. He would reach out to other car companies and asked them if they wanted electric parts for their cars. The company would be involved in projects of other manufacturers, supplying parts and assisting development. In return, the companies would pay Rimac a huge sum of money, which would be used to fund his company and further develop and produce the Concept One.


Photo: Financial Times
Photo: Financial Times

Rimac, in collaboration with Team APEV, built a one-off racing car called the E-Runner for the purpose of climbing up Pikes Peak. The Pikes Peak hill climb is one of the most challenging hill climbs in the world, spanning 20 kilometers long, and having over 156 turns. Participants in this race climb 2860 meters from the starting line at 1440 meters above sea level to the finish line 4300 meters above sea level.

Because of the high altitude, internal combustion engine-powered cars tend to have difficulties running thanks to the thin atmosphere, as oxygen gets more scarce the higher you climb, which is essential for internal combustion. Electric cars do not need to deal with this, as no combustion is required in an electric car.

In the end, Tajima broke his personal Pikes Peak record by 11 seconds, completing the hill climb in 9:32:41 while driving the Rimac E-Runner, along with setting a new personal record of 232 kilometers/hour driving through the Pikes Peak Speed Trap. However, the mechanical brakes of the E-Runner failed mid-race, but Tajima managed to safely complete the hillclimb and finish second place after Rhys Millen in the Drive eO, another electric supercar.

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Rimac unveiled a lighter, more aerodynamic and more track-oriented variant of the Concept One, called the Concept S. The car's power output has been increased to 1,384 horsepower compared to the 1,288 horsepower found in the standard Concept One. The car can go from 0-100 kilometers/hour in 2.5 seconds, while reaching an unlimited top speed of 365 kilometers/hour.

The Concept S weighs 50 kilograms less compared to the standard Concept One thanks to modifications to the car's carbon-fiber shell. The car also features a full aerodynamic package featuring carbon-fiber front splitters, side skirts, racing slicks, and a large rear wing producing 34% more downforce when compared to the Concept One.

Several modifications had also been done to the car's interior, such as using bucket seats with a four-point racing harness, a driver focused infotainment display displaying only the most import information on the central display, along with the car's interior mostly made out of Alcantara. Only two have been made so far.


Mate Rimac. (Source: Innovators Under 35)
Mate Rimac. (Source: Innovators Under 35)

Rimac still supplies battery systems to other manufacturers today. The company produces KERS Hybrid battery systms for Aston Martin, Koenigsegg, Jaguar and Seat. Rimac systems can be found in other supercars and electric cars such as the Aston Martin Valkyrie, the Koenigsegg Regera, the Jaguar E-type Zero, and the Seat Cupra e-Racer. In 2018, Rimac struck a deal with Italian design house and now supercar manufacturer, Pininfarina, to build their first supercar, the Pininfarina Battista.

Unveiled at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, the Battista is based on the same architecture as the Rimac C_Two, only covered in a more elegant and curvaceous body. The car uses the same battery pack, motors, and electrical systems found in the C_Two, producing a power output of 1,877 horsepower. The Battista shares 40-50% of its components with the Rimac C_Two.

The Volkswagen Auto Group owns a 10% stake in Rimac through its subsidiary, Porsche, after signing a deal to form a development partnership as part of the brand's transition to electric cars. Mate Rimac commented: "This partnership now is an important step for Rimac on our way to become a component and system supplier of choice for the industry in electrification, connectivity and the exciting field of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems".

To many of us car enthusiasts, Mate Rimac is a pioneer in the automotive industry. He proved to the entire world that electric cars can be as fast and as cool as gasoline powered cars, and created the world's first electric supercar out of nothing but his experience and a few spare parts lying around. His innovations and products are ahead of its time, which helped his company to bounce back from near-bankruptcy.

He's comparable to Nikola Tesla, as they both pioneered the electric motor. Tesla would invent the AC motor in 1887, while Rimac would push it to its absolute limits, utilizing it into some of the fastest electric cars on Earth over a century later. Even though Tesla didn't achieve his goal of giving the entire world free and unlimited energy, Rimac achieved his goal to create the best electric supercar in the world, and the bedroom poster car for tomorrow.

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