The Hyundai Group is the next large automaker to make pilgrimage to Croatia, all for the purpose of investing 80 million euros ($90 million) in Rimac. Hyundai has chipped in 64 million euros ($72 million), while Kia added 16 million euros ($18 million). The tie-up puts a much faster spin on the South Korean automaker's electrification goals, with current plans to get 44 "eco-friendly models" on sale by 2025. Developing products with Rimac means working up two proper halo models to lead the charge.
The press release stated Hyundai's intent to "to lead the high-performance electrified vehicle market and enhance its status as a game changer in Clean Mobility." According to Thomas Schemera, EVP of the group's product division, "Our goal is to popularize electric vehicles and to create social value through world-class technology and innovation in performance." The Hyundai Kona Electric, Ioniq and Nexo, and the Kia Soul EV and Niro EV have all won praise, but won't be enough in their current forms to garner the attention Hyundai and Kia desire.
We'll see first fruits as soon as next year. Two high-performance electric prototypes are expected to debut, one being a battery-electric vehicle, the other a hydrogen fuel cell EV. The battery-powered offering will be a zero-emission version of Hyundai's mid-engined sports car for the N division. This has been in the works for seven years now, with three concepts put on show starting with the Veloster Midship in 2014. The RM15 followed a year later, the RM16 N (pictured) a year after that.
The automaker didn't indicate what the FCEV would be. The aim, however, is to bring both to marker "at a later time."
On Rimac's side, the investment helps the small Croatian on its quest for Tier 1 Supplier status. Only ten years old and employing about 500 people, Rimac has supplied technology to Aston Martin for the Valkyrie, Jaguar for the E-Type Zero, Koenigsegg for the Regera, and Pininfarina for the PF0. Porsche bought a ten-percent stake in Rimac last year, following a 30-million-euro investment from Chinese battery maker Camel Group to take a 19-percent stake.
The Eastern European concern remains focused on its own bowtie-inspired hypercars as long as founder Mate Rimac leads, though. As he told Motor Trend in April, "Of course I'm very passionate about helping other manufacturers build their cars. But if the shareholders decide it doesn't make sense to produce our own cars, they we'll have to find another CEO."