- Rimac will develop prototypes for two high-performance electric cars, one of which will run off a hydrogen fuel cell.
- Hyundai’s N performance brand will develop the RM16 concept, shown above, into reality.
- Hyundai did not announce details of a stake in startup Rimac at this time.
Hyundai is going to build the mid-engined RM16 hatchback (pictured above), which was first shown as a concept in 2016. The car will go into production without an engine—not that it’ll need one. Hyundai has announced it is paying Rimac, the Croatian electric supercar upstart, a handsome $90 million to develop what will be Hyundai’s first high-performance EV.
That means our earlier rendering of an Ioniq N could materialize in real life. But Hyundai says the money is earmarked for an electric version of the RM16 (which stands for Racing Midship), a concept that made its debut at a South Korean auto show back in 2016. Based on the Veloster, the RM16 is a modern take on the 2001 Renault Sport Clio V-6, a zany little French hatch with a big engine gobbling up the rear seats and cargo bay. While the financial arrangement, as announced, is only for Rimac to “develop prototypes,” Hyundai said it has “the intent to bring them to market at a later time.”
What can we expect to come to market? Nothing less than a hydrogen fuel-cell performance car, something not attempted since BMW worked with internal-combustion, liquid hydrogen V-12s more than a decade ago. Like Honda and Toyota, Hyundai appears to disregard Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s put-down of fuel-cell EVs. The Hyundai Nexo hydrogen-fueled crossover is whirring around Seoul and Southern California, although speed is not its prime mission. If all goes according to plan, a Rimac-engineered Hyundai on hydrogen should be shooting water cannons out the back.
The $90 million also includes an $18 million portion for Kia, the subsidiary to the parent Hyundai Motor Group. Nothing was announced as being allocated for Genesis. Where this leads, we’re not yet sure.
But it’s clear Rimac is on a roll. The small company hasn’t yet proved that its Concept_One or C_Two hypercars can crack the 200-plus-mph speeds it claims or output horsepower and torque by the thousands. It is not at the stage where it is ready to sell any cars. Yet the major automakers have come knocking. Porsche invested an unspecified 10 percent stake, Pininfarina is sharing the C_Two’s platform for its own EV, Jaguar tapped it for the E-type Zero conversion, and Aston Martin is relying on Rimac to provide the kinetic-energy recovery system for the Valkyrie. But these are millionaire dreams. Rimac’s next project with Hyundai could be its most reality-grounded project yet.