TCN’s Sasa Cvetojevic interviewed Mate Rimac on his television show last night. Highlights of that interview below, and more from Sasa and Mate coming soon to TCN.
Croatian entrepreneur Mate Rimac, the owner of Rimac Automobili, gave an interview to N1 Television on Febuary 15, 2016 and talked about his plans for the future.
What is your plan for this year?
As far as bicycles are concerned, we want to produce between 300 and 600 bikes, depending on demand. They are currently being tested by police and military forces worldwide. The current capacity we have is for 300 to 400 bicycles, but we are trying to produce 600. We also want to make 5 Concept Ones with the basic price of 850,000 euros. We are planning to increase capacities, but we will not go into mass production. Croatia is an insignificant market for such cars, but the value we create in Croatia is what is important.
Why don’t you start producing cheaper cars?
We are the only profitable company that produces electric cars in the world. We make the best sport electric cars. We could not do it any other way, since that would be a waste of money. What matters is the value that we create in Croatia, it is important that we export. We have created our own niche.
What about an electric bicycle?
Our first employee Zvonimir made the bicycle as a hobby. We used car elements to made a bike. We have decided to create and launch a product that we ourselves would like, which would be cool. Now it is a separate product which has a dedicated team which is only working on that project. It costs 8,500 euros. With technology and networking we plan to create a whole new user experience. There are a lot of interesting things that we expect to happen this year, since it is a market with no leaders. We do not want to produce the greatest number of such bicycles in the world, but we want them to be the best.
The military and police markets are quite interesting and lucrative.
When police officers try our bicycles, they cannot believe what kind of performance they get. It is perfect for any city, faster than a motorcycle, but with no emissions. We combine the best of two worlds, bicycles and motorcycles. People in Abu Dhabi were impressed that we managed to remotely update the software on a bike and that overnight we had increased its maximum speed from 70 to 100 kph. They were very impressed.
What has kept you going forward?
There were times when I thought that I could not do it anymore, but I have always managed to survive. I would start thinking that there are 150 people depending on me, so it was hard to give up.
What are the main problems for your business?
As for the state administration, we do not have too much contact. We pay our obligations on time and no one bothers us. However, the whole context should be better. We are the only country in the EU that does not have the automotive industry. Even Serbia and BiH have it, but we do not. I do not like to get involved in politics, but I think we should focus on the economy. When people know how to produce things, then the Ustashe and partisans and Cyrillic signs tend to fall into the background. We should focus on economic growth, and not reinvent the wheel. We should make every possible effort to attract investors to come here, we should cut the red tape and everything will be easier. When an opportunities arises, we need to do everything to take advantage of it. Also, we should remove all barriers to investments.
Which part of your job do you find the hardest?
Fundraising for the technology projects. I want to develop technology, but I need to talk to investors. I would be very happy if someone were to free me of that burden. I am being helped by my colleagues, but it is the hardest part and a lot of pressure and expectations that everyone has.
What will happen with Rimac Automobili in the next one to three years?
We must be aware that this is a start-up company which carries a risk. We are either going to become big, or we will remain small and fail. We have strong foundations, we are a profitable company, we grow and we have orders. We want to be a technology leader in what we do, we want to become synonymous with electric sports car and we want to have our technological know-how applied to a range of products, from bicycles, cars, electric wheelchairs, so that we can create thousands of new jobs.