Only eight Rimac Concept One supercars were built. Now, there are only seven after a notorious crash involving Richard Hammond.
Given they are all customer cars, it’s not surprising that I find myself in the passenger rather than driver’s seat for my brief ride in the car, sitting alongside Rimac test driver Miroslav Zrncevic.
This car is owned by Paul Runge, an electric car fan and retinal surgeon based in Florida, who is disarmingly relaxed about us taking his car out for a spin. If I’d just bought a £1m supercar, I’d be keeping a tight hold on the keys.
Still, despite the figures, it’s easy to be sceptical of these fairly unknown electric supercar brands coming out of the woodwork (think Vanda Dendrobium, Nio EP9), with plenty of raucous claims on performance that surpass the established brands. This very car took a long time to come to fruition; it was first seen in 2011 at the Frankfurt motor show.
But it’s also an exciting time, because often these are the companies that are pushing the boundaries of what can be done with electric cars, not constrained by price or selling to the masses like so many mainstream car makers.
Before getting in the car, chief operating officer Monika Mikac told me about how Rimac built its own infotainment system – not because the company wanted to but because it got quoted a huge €20m for buying a system from a supplier – and how impressive it is. My initial thought was: impressive, schimpressive. There’s plenty of decent infotainment systems out there and plenty of mediocre ones; this will fit into one of those categories. I was wrong. Everything you can think of is accessible via this Rimac touchscreen. Choose your torque distribution between the front and rear? Yes. Overlay graphs on power, motor speed and torque from a period of time? You can. Raise your suspension for a speed bump? Sure. You get the idea. It’s damn impressive.
So, let’s get to the good bit. We’re on a private estate near Monterey, California, which gives Zrncevic the perfect excuse to show me quite what this beast is capable of.
The electric Concept One is a 1224bhp car with a combined torque figure of 1180lb ft. It has four motors, one on each wheel, making it four-wheel drive. The powertrain also enables all-wheel torque vectoring, with each wheel able to accelerate or decelerate a hundred times per second – that’s something else you can witness on the infotainment system.
The claimed 0-62mph time is 2.6sec. We get out into a fairly straight piece of open road and Zrncevic puts his foot down. As with all electric cars, torque is instant, which is why these powertrains are so perfect for supercars. But this is so fast and so unnervingly quiet, it takes my breath away. And that wasn’t quite from a standing start, so it could go even faster yet.
We don’t get much of a chance to chuck it around corners on our short run, not least because I’m sure Zrncevic is under strict instructions to keep Runge’s car safe, but the clever torque vectoring system leaves it in good stead for promising handling.
I ask Zrncevic what the advantages are of this over your average Porsche or Bugatti. As well as observing that the torque vectoring system is like no other, he sums it up with this: “We benchmarked this car against the 918 Spyder, the Veyron and the LaFerrari. This is way faster.”