All-electric performance hits an inflection point

Electric vehicles are on the rise. The statement works figuratively if you consider the recent proliferation of new EV models and technology, but it also works literally considering the results from the 2015 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Crowding the podium at last year’s “Race to the Clouds” was a duo of all-electric racers – a first in the event’s nearly century-long history. One of those cars was the E-Runner Concept_One, a joint effort by Japanese racing driver Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima and Croatian EV-builder Rimac Automobili. Incredibly, Rimac is now gearing up to release a production version of the Concept_One, and it’s packing sensational styling, a lovingly crafted interior, and output figures with four digits.

As you can imagine, the road here hasn’t been an easy one. Rimac took five years to create the production-ready Concept_One, following an initial reveal in 2011 with four ground-up redesigns. Practically everything on the car was conceived, developed, and manufactured by Rimac in-house.

“My goal was to not to [sic] create an electric version of existing supercars,” said Mate Rimac, CEO of Rimac Automobili. “I wanted to create technology to make the supercar considerably better in every regard – faster, more fun and more efficient. I wanted to make the supercar of the 21st century.”

Simply put, this is Rimac’s magnum opus, a technological tour de force in every sense. But is the world’s first all-electric hypercar really ready for primetime?

Continue reading to learn more about the Rimac Concept_One.

Exterior

2017 Rimac Concept One High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Rimac Concept One High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Rimac Concept One High Resolution Exterior
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I’ll just come out and say it – I like how this thing looks. Unlike many limited-run fantasy machines, the Concept_One manages a somewhat broad aesthetic appeal. It’s futuristic, but not too busy, sleek, but bold. I see a lot of Jaguarin there, with the front fascia lines of the F-Type, plus the low-and-wide stance of the XJ220. I also see the Noble M600 and a little Bugatti in the profile, while the flat rear conjures images of the Koenigsegg Agera.

At its heart, the Concept_One is a chromoly space-frame, with aluminum and carbon-fiber semi-stressed members.

This attractive appearance can be chalked up to the new platform Rimac created. The company’s blank-slate approach meant designers had a ton of wiggle room to make something that was both appealing and aerodynamically functional. It also meant Rimac could develop the chassis and drivetrain in tandem, reducing weight and maximizing the benefits of all-electric motivation.

At its heart, the Concept_One is a chromoly space-frame, with aluminum and carbon-fiber semi-stressed members. However, despite all the lightweight materials, the onboard battery packs and electric motors still create a lot of heft, translating into a somewhat portly 4,079-pound curb weight. That’s heavy, especially when you consider how the Concept_One is significantly smaller than its hybrid-hypercar competition.

Exterior Dimensions

Weight 1,850 KG (4,078 LBS)
Length 4,187 MM (164.84 Inches)
Width 1,842 MM (72.51 Inches)
Height 1,070 MM (42.12 Inches)

Interior

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Step inside this two-seater, and you’ll be met with a totally customized interior drenched in high-end materials. Everything is either carbon fiber, Alcantara, or aluminum, including the various buttons, all of which were machined from billet aluminum.

Of course, there’s a central touchscreen as well, which provides the control point for Rimac’s in-house developed infotainment system. Available data includes energy consumption rates and settings for various vehicle features. Rimac says it placed 500 sensors throughout the vehicle to relay pertinent info back to the driver, and you can analyze the car’s telemetry data via the touchscreen, your computer, or even your smartphone.

Drivetrain

2017 Rimac Concept One High Resolution Drivetrain
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Here are a few numbers – 1,072 horsepower and 1,180 pound-feet of torque. Here are a few more numbers – 0-to-62 mph in 2.6 seconds, 0-to-124 mph in 6.2 seconds, and 0-to-186 mph in 14.2 seconds. Top speed is 221 mph.

0-to-62 mph in 2.6 seconds, 0-to-124 mph in 6.2 seconds, and 0-to-186 mph in 14.2 seconds. Top speed is 221 mph.

You know, I try to be pretty conservative when it comes to using the word “bonkers” in reviews, but in this particular circumstance, I think it’s more than appropriate.

Such cartoonish velocity is provided by four permanent magnet electric motors, one per wheel, each mounted in the center of their respective axle.

The 82-kWh capacity battery pack is composed of 8,450 individual cells controlled by Rimac’s custom battery management system. Designed specifically for the rigors of track use, the system incorporates liquid thermal management and low-resistance conducting, and comes equipped with a 22-kW charger and the option for DC quick-charging. The distance-per-charge is currently unavailable, but original estimates put it at 310 miles. Charge times are also unavailable as of this writing.

In addition to four separate motors, the Concept_One also uses four separate gearboxes. To maximize both acceleration and top speed, the two motors mounted in front each use a single-speed box, while the rear motors each get a two-speed unit with a carbon-fiber double-clutch system.

Enhancing both grip and handling is Rimac’s AWD torque vectoring system (or R-AWTV), which was used with great success at Pikes Peak last year.

Enhancing both grip and handling is Rimac’s AWD torque vectoring system (or R-AWTV), which was used with great success at Pikes Peak last year. The system incorporates an array of sensors in the chassis and suspension to calculate optimum torque distribution between all four corners one hundred times per second, per motor. R-AWTV acts as the car’s traction control, stability control, and “electric ABS,” and drivers can use it to change the car’s balance between understeer, neutral, and oversteer as desired.

R-AWTV also integrates with the Concept_One’s regenerative power system, which can slow the car with 0.6 g of negative acceleration without using the brakes. Drivers have total control over the influence of this system, either gaining up to 400 kW of off-throttle regen power, or disabling it altogether.

Further customization includes drive modes for either “comfort,” “control,” “track,” or my favorite, “drift mode” (eat your heart out, Ken Block). Alternatively, drivers can turn off torque vectoring completely.

Chassis And Handling

2017 Rimac Concept One High Resolution Drivetrain
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While an all-electric drivetrain comes at the cost of added weight, the payoff is a low center of gravity and optimum weight distribution (in this case, 42 percent front and 58 percent rear). The fully adjustable, pushrod-operated, double-wishbone suspension certainly helps handling as well, as does the electro-hydraulic steering.

Beyond the regenerative power system, carbon-ceramic brakes are used to shed the speed.

Beyond the regenerative power system, carbon-ceramic brakes are used to shed the speed. Up front are 15.6-inch rotors with six-piston calipers, while 15-inch rotors with four-piston calipers are in the rear. A stop from 62 mph takes a little over one hundred feet.

Pirelli P Zero rubber wraps the Concept_One’s mammoth 20-inch wheels, measured at 245/35 in the front and 295/30 in back. Max stick is rated at 1.4 g of lateral acceleration.

Drivetrain Specifications

Powertrain
Front Rimac Automobili D-PM-OC-500 – high speed dual permanent magnet oil cooled motors, 500 kW peak, 12,000 RPM, up to 97% efficiency. 2 single speed gearboxes
Rear Rimac Automobili D-PM-OC-600 – high speed dual permanent magnet oil cooled motors, 600 kW peak, 12,000 RPM, up to 97% efficiency. Two double clutch two-speed gearboxes.
Maximum power 1,072 HP
Maximum torque 1,180 LB-FT
Top speed 355 kKM/H (220 MPH)
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) 2.6 seconds; 0-200 km/h 6.2 seconds, 0-300 km/h 14.2 seconds
Braking distance 31.5 m (100-0 km/h)
Lateral g-force 1.4 g
Charging 22 kW on-board charger, DC-Combo fast charger (up to 120kW)
Power to weight 588 HP/T

Prices

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Rimac says it’s only gonna make eight examples of the production Concept_One. Pricing rings to the tune of 850,000 euros, or $936,445 at current exchange rates (02/24/2016).

What’s that? You think almost a million bucks for some oversized Tesla Model S is too much? Well, it doesn’t really matter, because six of the eight have already been sold, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the last two get scooped up before this article is even posted.

Competition

Porsche 918 Spyder

2014 Porsche 918 Spyder High Resolution Exterior
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How do you compete with something that’s the first of its kind? Look to the machines that paved the way. The 918 Spyder is one such vehicle, and although it’s a hybrid, this is really closest thing the Concept_One has in terms of competition. Output is a bit lower, rated at 887 horsepower and 940 pound-feet of torque, but acceleration is about the same, with 2.8 seconds required for a run to 60 mph (2.6 with the Weissach package).

Read the full review on the Porsche 918 Spyder here.

Conclusion

2017 Rimac Concept One High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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When I was little, I got a remote control car for my birthday. Like the Concept_One, my R/C was all-electric, which meant I had to plug it into the wall and wait for hours on end until the little red light turned green. Then it was straight to the backyard, where I’d run it for 15 blissful minutes before it needed another charge.

That’s what I fear about the Concept_One.

Don’t get me wrong – this thing is the stuff of dreams. I love the way it looks, the way it goes, the technology underneath – all of it’s amazing. Without a doubt, this car represents a real watershed moment for EVs.

But what happens when you gotta wait for the red light to turn green?

Considering the price tag, I’m sure anyone who owns a Concept_One will have plenty of other toys to play with. But my point is this – electric vehicles are starting to hit the mainstream in a big way, but there’s still a ton of hurdles to widespread adoption. The biggest barrier by far is recharge time and distance per charge, two very important stats Rimac has yet to divulge. I don’t have any real problems with the Concept_One specifically, but rather, my trepidation lies with EVs as a whole.

Regardless, anyone who thought electric vehicles were best left on the golf course should probably change their tune, because there’s over 1,000 horsepower ready to prove them wrong.

  • Leave it
    • Absurd price tag
    • Very heavy
    • Unknown time to charge, distance per charge

Press Release

The Concept_One was born of the idea that an electric powertrain can make a sportscar not only faster but also more adjustable, agile and fun. Rimac Automobili was founded to push the limits of technology and electric powertrains - the Concept_One combines all the know-how, technology and experience that the company has created since its founding.

2017 Rimac Concept One High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Concept_One is powered by four extremely powerful permanent magnet electric motors, one for each wheel, located in the centre of both axles. The architecture is radically different compared to traditional combustion engines so a completely new vehicle platform had to be developed to use all the advantages that such a layout brings. In order to reduce weight and make it possible to package such a powerful powertrain system into the chassis, all powertrain systems were developed alongside within the same team to enable a high degree of integration between the components. The result is a perfect weight distribution and extremely low centre of gravity.

Distributing a total of 800 kW / 1088 HP and 1600 Nm of torque, the Rimac All Wheel Torque Vectoring (R-AWTV) system precisely calculates the optimum torque for each wheel. R-AWTV uses inputs from several precise sensors strategically positioned around the chassis and suspension to calculate the optimal torque distribution between the wheels through complex mathematical models and control algorithms. The system provides unseen flexibility and grip by controlling each motor individually one hundred times per second. This enables the Concept_One to accelerate from standstill to 100 km/h in just 2,6 seconds and, to 200 km/h in 6,2 and to 300 km/h in mind-blowing 14,2 seconds.

The R-AWTV functions as a traction control, stability control and “electric ABS” system that also commands the 4-wheel regenerative braking of up to 400 kW that works together with the carbon-ceramic braking system.

To match the character, innovation excellence and sleek design of the Concept_One, a truly bespoke infotainment system was developed and manufactured in-house. All vehicle dynamics and powertrain functions such as the Rimac All Wheel Torque Vectoring System are controlled through physical buttons, machined from billet aluminium while secondary functions are controlled through the central touch-screen. The system shows an abundance of information through beautifully optimised graphics and gives insights into the Concept_One’s nervous system. Browsing through the menus on the central display, the driver can change the settings of the Rimac All Wheel Torque Vectoring system, brake force distribution, torque distribution, as well as various other functions. By changing the settings, the driver alternates the nature of the car depending on his preferences, from a calm and neutral setting to a track-oriented setup or the extreme drift mode that helps experienced drivers to have fun on a closed track.

From basic energy consumption information via regenerative braking and Rimac All Wheel Torque Vectoring settings to telemetry data - the Rimac Infotainment system gathers information from over 500 different sensors and projects them in beautiful graphics on the central display in real time. The data is stored in the internal memory and sent to the Cloud via high-speed 4G Internet link. The telemetry data can be analysed during or after a lap on the racetrack, via the touch-screen, a PC or smartphone.

2017 Rimac Concept One High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Handmade technology of the future

In the five years of development, the Concept_One went through numerous iterations and development phases to fulfil the highest criteria of performance and quality.

In the words of the founder and CEO of Rimac Automobili, Mate Rimac: “My goal was to not to create an electric version of existing supercars. I wanted to create technology to make the supercar considerably better in every regard – faster, more fun and more efficient. I wanted to make the supercar of the 21st century. The Concept_One showcases performances which were not considered possible for electric cars a few years ago. To reach that level of performance, we first had to develop the technology and then the car. The Concept_One has gone through four iterations from a concept to the production car. In every iteration, we have redesigned almost all systems from scratch in order to achieve the level of performance and quality that we have set for ourselves in the beginning. I am also extremely proud of our vertical integration – the Concept_One is a true Rimac Automobili product – down to the smallest details.”

Rimac Automobili’s Head of Design, Adriano Mudri: “It is quite unique that a whole car can be designed, developed and manufactured under one roof. Rimac Automobili’s extreme broadness of know-how and skill sets opens an array of possibilities for chasing perfection on every level.”

The Concept_One continues the journey that the supercars with conventional drive have started.

Similar to today’s supercar classics, which marked an important part in automotive history, the Concept_One also began its life on a piece of paper. Starting from the first sketch to the hand-written mathematical theory of the Rimac All Wheel Torque Vectoring system down to the basic functions and the software code which brought it to life. Just like body panels of historical supercar legends were made by precise hits of a skilled hands to form sheet metal into beautiful shapes, an almost artistic manual process creates the Concept_One’s numerous components. From laying carbon-fibre, machining light alloy parts, tailoring the wiring loom, to the artistically woven interior while carefully finishing each unique part, the Concept_One represents the harmony of skills developed throughout the years of car making.

“The Concept_One represents the perfect symbiosis of modern technology developed here in our company and traditional automotive craftsmanship for which we have the utmost respect. We stay true to the roots of motorsport and old skills of car makers and engineers who created the automotive world which made a profound influence on us when we were children. Every single part of the Concept_One has been through a hand-finishing process and is carefully assembled at our facilities. We invest tremendous effort into developing the feeling which this car gives to the driver. Not only in terms of driving characteristic but also the feeling and the sound from the driver’s perspective. For example, all controls in the interior are beautifully crafted mechanisms similar to the world’s best watches, with hundreds of individual components, carved from solid blocks of metal. There are no plastic parts; everything the driver touches is carbon, aluminium or Alcantara. We wanted to achieve that solid feeling of classic supercars. The goal was to achieve a true connection between the driver and the machine – and that is only possible with passion, attention to details and craftsmanship. The Concept_One is a truly hand-made car." said Mate Rimac.

2017 Rimac Concept One High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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In-house production

The ambitious goal Rimac Automobili set themselves is to produce as much as possible in-house. Painstaking attention to every detail requires high quality, which can best be maintained and controlled if the engineering and manufacturing teams are under the same roof.

Thousands of metal, electric and carbon fibre parts have to be manufactured, assembled and tested for each Concept_One. Even the tools, jigs and moulds are designed and produced by Rimac Automobili. Most of the parts start their lives as aluminium blocks or raw bare carbon fabrics which don’t leave the Rimac facilities in Sveta Nedelja before they are assembled into cars.

Battery pack

Electric vehicle batteries are usually challenged by capacity requirements. While it is challenging to develop a battery system that holds sufficient energy for an acceptable range, Rimac Automobili has faced an additional challenge: delivering one megawatt of power.

The Concept_One’s battery pack is designed to deliver 1000 kW or 1MW of power during acceleration and to absorb 400 kW during braking. A unique liquid thermal management and low-resistance conducting system had to be developed in order to master this challenge. The result is a highly advanced high-performance battery pack that is designed for demanding track- use, high power delivery and safety.

Each of the 8450 battery cells is individually controlled through the in-house developed Rimac Battery Management System, which ensures optimal conditions for a long battery life and long-term performance.

Rimac All Wheel Torque Vectoring
Conceived in a road car, perfected on the most demanding road in the world – the hill climb to Pikes Peak.

Rimac All Wheel Torque Vectoring system is designed and developed by Rimac Automobili and is currently the only system in the world with this principle available on a production car. The advantages of the R-AWTV over conventional drivetrains was most noticeable on the most demanding hill-climb race in the world – Pikes Peak Hill Climb in Colorado. Nobuhiro Monster Tajima drove the Tajima Rimac e-Runner, a race car developed by Rimac Automobili, on the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2015 and finished in front of all combustion engine powered cars. The invaluable experience gathered during the Pikes Peak project has been implemented in the development of the Concept_One’s R-AWTV system. The result is a refined, yet powerful system that works in the background to enhance the natural potential of the vehicle.

2017 Rimac Concept One High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Compared with a conventional powertrain with four-wheel drive where the torque on each wheel is controlled either by braking through a hydraulic braking system or cutting the power of the engine and thus the power on all four wheels, the Concept_One does not have to make any compromises.

R-AWTV can reduce or raise the torque on any wheel at any given moment, depending on the situation and driver input, without any limitations.
R-AWTV also increases safety as it can react faster and use the potential of each tire better than traditional stability systems. A dynamic “electric ABS” is moreover included in the R-AWTV system.

The Concept_One’s regenerative braking system can slow the car down with up to 400 kW of regenerative braking energy or up to 0,6g of deceleration, without activating the carbon-ceramic brakes. R-AWTV can distribute the brake force smoother, faster and with greater precision than conventional ABS systems thus ensuring the maximum vehicle stability in cases of braking on surfaces at different grip levels. Still, the driver can also chose to disable regenerative braking and use friction brakes only. The throttle-off regenerative braking function can be adjusted separately.

Depending on the wishes and driving skills of the driver, the R-AWTV can change the character of the car. The driver can choose between four driving modes: comfort, control, track and drift mode, or set-up a custom setting with customised power distribution, regenerative braking settings, etc. The R-AWTV can also be completely turned off.

The driver can choose the driving modes via knobs on the central console. Depending on the chosen mode the car will act differently on the limit of grip. It can tend to understeer, be neutral, or for the more experienced drivers, have a tendency to oversteer and thus enable more aggressive driving style through corners.

Rimac Automobili’s test driver Miroslav Zrnčević explains the endless possibilities that the Concept_One has to offer: "Thanks to its unique architecture and features, the Concept_One can use the maximum potential of the tires. Depending on the driver’s preferences and R-AWTV setup, it offers multiple cars in one. The Concept_One represents the pinnacle of technology and design that we can give as a company. Every unit carries its romantic story. Concept_One is a different driving experience. A car that gives a new dimension of driving experience.”

Four motors, four gearboxes

Despite having full torque from zero RPM, electric motors still need a transmission to meet maximum efficiency and performance. Most electric vehicles use a single-speed transmission that forces their designers to compromise between acceleration and top-speed.

Rimac Automobili is all about innovation and pushing the limits – not about compromises. We wanted to achieve lightning-fast acceleration, and a top speed worthy of a true supercar. In order to meet those targets, we had to come up with a unique solution.

Each of the four Concept_One’s motors is coupled to a proprietary gearbox system. While the front motors feature single-speed gearboxes, the rear motors carry something truly unique – a two-speed double-clutch gearbox on each side. A proprietary carbon fibre double clutch system with Formula 1 clutch-disks enables either extremely fast or smooth and comfortable shifts that are supported by synchronising motor speed for interruption-free shifting. While the dual-speed transmission unlocks new performance levels at any speed, the Concept_One can be driven in one gear all the time as it has enough torque to outperform almost any sportscar even if driven in one gear only.

2017 Rimac Concept One High Resolution Exterior
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Limited production
The Concept_One will be produced in the total of eight units.

Rimac Automobili’s collaborate philosophy is to share ideas and technologies with other manufacturers in various industries to accelerate the shift to a more efficient and better transportation system. As a showcase of its main business, Rimac Automobili will, in addition, display its technologies and abilities that are available to other companies. A special edition of the Greyp G12S bike, made by Rimac’s sister company Greyp Bikes, will also be shown in Geneva.

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