For one thing, it’s based in Croatia, a country better known for spotty dogs, medieval HBO blockbusters and some of the world’s best beaches. For another, it doesn’t produce many cars and its CEO was born after the launch of the Ferrari F40 and was once best known for flogging a green E30-generation BMW 3 Series around race tracks.
But Rimac is helping to shape the future of fast cars, specifically those powered by electricity.
That was a point rammed home during a recent visit to the unassuming factory on the outskirts of Croatia’s capital, Zagreb. By the time Ms Google had directed me to the alleged location, I was convinced I was in the wrong spot. Nondescript warehouses are surrounded by the occasional plot of unkempt grass and weeds. It’s far from the no-rock-out-of-place precision of Woking or the grandeur of Goodwood.
But follow the signs around the back of an industrial estate and things turn more professional, with R-badged flags waving in the breeze. A deep blue hue surrounding the top of the blocky building contrasts with the overcast sky and glass panels are peppered with pictures of cars, a Lotus-like stature the only clue to something special within.
The car park is strangely devoid grey sea of Opels, Volkswagens and the occasional Mercedes-Benz, some with a snazzy set of alloy wheels and the occasional splash of yellow or green. A couple of Teslas, with charging cables snaking from them, are the only clues of automotive appreciation.
There’s not a single Rimac, which must make it the only car factory in the world where at least some of the machines produced there aren’t dotted around the car park. Blame it on volumes. Since producing its first vehicle in 2016, Rimac has completed only five full cars. Not five thousand. Not five hundred. Five. It works out to about one car every seven or eight months.
A wave of productivity means another three are in various stages of construction while I’m there, body panels stacked and awaiting fitment to complete the planned run of eight Concept_Ones. The car is a two-seater with batteries lining its floor and an electric motor on each wheel. Although tyres and generic components are sourced from suppliers, most components – including air-con units, lights and bumpers – are produced in-house.