Hyundai invests W100b in Rimac for electric hypercar development

By Cho Chung-un
  • Published : May 14, 2019 - 15:24
  • Updated : May 14, 2019 - 15:27

South Korean auto giant Hyundai Motor and its sister company Kia Motors invested 106 billion won ($89.23 million) in a Croatian manufacturer of high-performance electric cars, a move to target the emerging high-end market for race cars powered by electricity, the company said Tuesday.

Under the partnership with Rimac, Hyundai plans to unveil two prototype models for hypercars next year, one powered by electricity and one by hydrogen. The investment aims to position Hyundai as leader in the global market for high-performance electric cars and to accelerate the realization of the company’s vision for clean mobility, the company explained. Hyundai invested 80 percent of the total, while Kia covered the rest.

“Rimac is an innovative company with outstanding capabilities in high-performance electric vehicles. Its startup roots and abundant experience collaborating with automakers combined with technological prowess make Rimac the ideal partner for us,” said Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun during the investment signing ceremony held in Zagrev. “We look forward to collaborating with Rimac on our road to Clean Mobility.”

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun (second from left) is briefed on Rimac’s electric hypercar technology by the company’s founder and CEO, Mate Rimac (right), at a workshop in Zagrev on Monday. (Hyundai Motor)

Founded by Mate Rimac, the incumbent CEO of Rimac in 2009, the company is a leader in the development of electric race cars and vehicle systems for electric hypercars. It also develops and produces drivetrains and battery systems for hyper-EVs.

Rimac came to the world’s attention by winning a 400-meter drag race with its first electric race car, the C_One, developed in 2016, and continued to surprise traditional race car brands by unveiling the C_Two, which hits 100 kilometers per hour within 1.85 seconds. The latest model was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show last year.

“We see a strong investor and technology partner in Hyundai Motor Group and believe this collaboration will charge our position as a Tier-1 electrification components supplier to the industry,” said Rimac.

Hyundai plans to apply Rimac’s technology know-how to its high-performance brand N, and to develop an N brand electrified midship sports concept car by 2020. A separate prototype of a high-performance fuel-cell vehicle is also in the works. The two prototypes will be considered for mass production later on, the company said.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Albert Biermann, head of Hyundai’s R&D division, expressed confidence in the company’s capacity to produce high-performance cars powered by hydrogen, saying it will be the first in the world to do so.

The investment was made amid growing demand for EVs worldwide. The number of EVs sold around the world grew from 134,000 in 2014 to 942,000 in 2018. The number of electric hypercars surged 57 percent during the same time frame, the company said.

Carmakers have been eyeing the growing market for electric hypercars, not just as a way of taking the lead in technology development, but also to enhance their brand value. 

By Cho Chung-un (