In the April 2023 issue of Car and Driver, Senior Editor Ezra Dyer reflects on his past interview with Spyker CEO Victor Muller, who famously replied to Dyer’s question about why he started a car company with the quip, “Why does a dog lick [itself]? Because it can.” Dyer muses that starting a car company requires a certain level of ultraconfidence and perhaps even a touch of mania. However, he admits that he was proven wrong when he met Mate Rimac, the 35-year-old founder of Rimac Automobili and Bugatti Rimac. Despite owning a Bugatti and setting a new EV production-car record with the Rimac Nevera, Rimac is not an ego-driven maniac. In fact, he is a vegetarian who is deeply concerned about sustainability and is striving to make his operations as eco-friendly as possible.
Rimac began his career by motor-swapping a BMW E36 to create an electric vehicle that could burn rubber. He thought that his main enterprise would be building cars with some technical consulting on the side. However, it turned out to be the opposite. Rimac is now working behind the scenes for OEMs and building the Rimac Nevera, which boasts 603 horsepower, 664 pound-feet of torque, and weighs only 106 pounds. When Volkswagen’s head of strategy proposed that Rimac take over Bugatti about three years ago, Rimac didn’t respond for three weeks because he thought he misheard or there was a glitch in the matrix. However, it turned out to be true, and now Rimac is working on the first car from Bugatti Rimac, which will be a hybrid, not an EV.
Rimac’s idealist leanings coexist with cold realism. He knows that he alone can’t change the trajectory of humanity, and there are contradictions inherent in owning a Porsche Carrera GT and producing gas-powered Bugattis while worrying about consumerism’s impact on the planet. However, Rimac believes that real change would be to own two pairs of pants, but he doesn’t think we’re going back to that. Instead, he plans to keep building cool cars while also exploring ideas for energy storage, robotaxis, and expanding his new campus into an even bigger one.
Rimac’s new factory campus in Sveta Nedelja, Croatia, is designed to be sustainable and employee-friendly. The campus recycles rainwater and plans to grow some food to help feed the company’s 1900 employees. There’s no fence around the property so that neighborhood kids can look in the windows and see cars being built. Fields and forests surround the factory, equipped with power outlets and Wi-Fi in case employees want to work outside. The perimeter road includes racetrack corner curbing. Rimac says that decisions were informed by the question, “How can a person here have the best day ever?”
In conclusion, Rimac is not an ultraconfident maniac like many car company founders. He is a rational idealist who is concerned about sustainability and making his operations as eco-friendly as possible. He plans to keep building cool cars while also exploring ideas for energy storage, robotaxis, and expanding his new campus into an even bigger one. Rimac’s new factory campus in Sveta Nedelja, Croatia, is designed to be sustainable and employee-friendly, with no fence around the property so that neighborhood kids can look in the windows and see cars being built.