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Innovation

The Croatian Tesla

You've probably never heard of Rimac Automobili from Croatia, but their sporty EV accelerates in a flash, at least on paper. They're the latest startup in the race to cut off the fossil fuel hose.
Written by Mark Halper, Contributor on

Disruptive technology drives industrial transformation, giving rise to new corporate powerhouses. History is full of examples, not the least of which is the once tiny Google shaking up old media.

The behemoth energy industry could be in for the same sort of topsy-turvy ride. As new ideas emerge to choke off the giant funnel of fossil fuel that feeds it, start-up companies are spawning with Internet-like rapidity.

That includes the motor sector, where concepts for electric cars are crawling out of the woodwork, including from unknown entities.

The latest example comes from Croatia where, get ready for it, Rimac Automobilli is expected to unveil a stunner at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week. The specs of its Concept One would rival the Tesla Roadster – the gold standard of sporty EVs.

According to Gizmag, the Concept One accelerates 0-to-100 km/h (basically, 0-to-60 mph) in a blinding 2.8 seconds, boasts a top speed of 305 km/h (189 mph), and has a range of 366 miles which if true would match the range of many a gasoline engine.

Calm down boys, calm down. Here’s how they’re supposedly achieving those juicy numbers: a 92-kWh battery (that’s capacious) drives 4 separate electric motors that propel a car weighing 1650 kilograms (3638 pounds –that’s light)) made with an aluminum frame and carbon fiber body. Other specs for those excited by this sort of thing: 1088 bhp, and a 3800 Nm torque.

In keeping with the upstart dotcom-like flavor of it all, Rimac is run by a kid. The boss is a 23-year-old automobile designer with a friendly sounding first name, Mate Rimac. He will build 88 of the concept cars, according to Gizmag. Not 87. Not 89. Why 88 is anybody’s guess.

Rimac Automobili? Not exactly a household name, is it? But then, neither are Lightning Car Company or Evilio, just two examples of obscure little companies that have thrown their hat into the EV ring recently.

We’re not saying Rimac will become the Google of electric cars. But what we like about their story is that it’s emblematic of the entrepreneurial zeal that will help drive along new ideas that could unseat fossil fuels.

Of course, Rimac et al have to compete with the EV initiatives of Old Auto Co., where the list of vendors these days is almost as long as the list of all big car brands such as VW with its one-seater,GM, Nissan, BMW, Ford, Mercedes and the staggering Audi.

Electric cars have a long way to go. As we’ve noted in recent blogs, consumers are staying away, deterred by high prices and range anxiety.

And the internal combustion engine is not exactly rolling over. Not only is Old Auto developing its own electric models, but it is also fighting back with more fuel-efficient fossil fuel-powered cars.

One thing that might help the EV camp would be innovative consumer financing schemes.

Let’s not forget that ideas for vehicles powered by electric motors date back to the 19th century and gave fossil fuel a run for the money until the early 20th century. Fossil fuel won.Maybe this time, with Croatian and myriad other initiatives, the results will be different.

Images: Top, Rimac Automobili; Bottom, blogautomobile.fr

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* Audi's staggering urban EV concept

* Britain's Slovakian answer to the Tesla Roadster

* A titanic electric sports car from Britain

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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