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Rimac reveals plans for new headquarters and technology campus

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Artist's impression of Rimac's new headquarters to built in Zagreb, Croatia

Rimac was only founded in 2009 but has quickly grown to become a major cog in the automotive industry, supplying several automakers with electric powertrain technology and building its own line of hypercars.

Rimac’s success has drawn the interest of major investors, namely Porsche which in March lifted its stake in the company to 24%, making it the biggest shareholder after CEO and founder Mate Rimac.

Flush with cash, Rimac is now expanding its operations. The company this week announced plans to construct a new headquarters and technology campus on the outskirts of Zagreb, Croatia. The bill will exceed $240 million and the completion date is expected to be in 2023.

The site will span more than two million square feet and house an expected 2,500 employees, double Rimac’s current headcount. Among the facilities will be an office for the headquarters, a production facility complete with a line for hypercars, a test track, battery test center, and museum. Mixed in the site will be areas for native sheep to graze and organic food to be produced.

Artist’s impression of Rimac’s new headquarters to built in Zagreb, Croatia

Greyp, an electric bike manufacturer also founded by Mate Rimac, will also call the site home.

The site will replace Rimac’s current headquarters, also located in Zagreb. The company also recently opened a small R&D center in the United Kingdom which will employ approximately 30 staff.

There was recently talk that Volkswagen Group was considering selling Bugatti and the French hypercar marque’s production facilities to Rimac in return for a larger stake. However, VW Group CEO Herbert Diess in March said the more likely outcome for Bugatti would be establishing a joint venture to oversee the brand, with Porsche and Rimac to be the owners of the JV.

Rimac has its own hypercar to sell. The company’s C_Two (code name only) unveiled at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show is in the final stage of development ahead of a likely start of production later this year.

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Autos

Harley-Davidson to make LiveWire a standalone brand

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Harley-Davidson LiveWire charging at Electrify America charging station

The Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle will spawn a standalone all-electric brand, the company announced Monday in a press release. The first LiveWire-branded motorcycle will be unveiled July 8, ahead of the International Motorcycle Show, the company said.

That marks a departure from the initial Harley-Davidson LiveWire, which was launched in 2019 as a single model within the Harley brand. It’s similar to the progression of Hyundai’s Genesis and Ioniq nameplates, which started out as individual models within the Hyundai brand, before expanding to standalone brands.

LiveWire will be “headquartered virtually,” with staff located in Silicon Valley and Milwaukee, according to Harley. The new brand will get its own engineering team dedicated to electric powertrains, but will also lean on Harley’s existing resources for engineering and manufacturing (the current Harley-Davidson LiveWire is built at the same York, Pennsylvania, factory as other bikes).

Harley-Davidson LiveWire charging at Electrify America charging station

Harley is also planning dedicated LiveWire showrooms, starting in California. However, the company also said LiveWire “will work with participating dealers from the Harley-Davidson network as an independent brand” and will “blend digital and physical retail formats,” indicating online sales may be a possibility.

Unveiled at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, the initial Harley-Davidson LiveWire sports a 110-mile range and 0-60 mph acceleration of 3.5 seconds. It hit the market in late 2019 with a $29,799 base price (before destination), which typically buys a higher-tier gasoline bike.

Several dedicated companies have launched electric motorcycles, but Harley is the only legacy manufacturer to wade in so far in the U.S. Polaris bought electric-motorcycle firm Brammo in 2015, and has a partnership with Zero Motorcycles, but so far it’s only discussed electric ATVs. Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha are working to develop a standardized swappable battery system for the Japanese market.

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Porsche Sonderwunsch program to rival Ferrari Special Projects

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Porsche Sonderwunsch program

Ferrari for years has been offering its most loyal—and deep pocketed—customers the opportunity to dream up their ultimate car and have it built on the chassis of a contemporary model.

It’s a program called Ferrari Special Projects, and over the years it’s resulted in some real stunners, as well as some real head scratchers.

Porsche had a similar program back in the 1970s called Sonderwunsch, German for “special request,” though it was much more exclusive than Ferrari Special Projects. One of the cars developed via the original program is the 993-generation 911 speedster, of which just two were built. One of those was built for Jerry Seinfeld.

Now Porsche wants to invite more customers to its Sonderwunsch program. Like Ferrari’s program, Sonderwunsch will enable a customer to work closely with Porsche’s designers to dream up a car that can be built as a true one-off or as a limited series.

Porsche Sonderwunsch program

For the less brave, Sonderwunsch will also enable a customer to customize colors and materials—on both existing cars as well as new cars yet to be built. This will be particularly useful for owners of classic Porsches that may want to update some elements to modern standards.

Examples of some of the options that will be available include custom wraps, custom paint finishes, racing numbers, prints on the floor mats, puddle lamps, accessories, and even performance parts.

Porsche said some of the options available will start showing up on its online configurator.

“It is our goal to provide customers around the globe with even more accurately tailored and demand-based products within the context of classic, existing and new cars,” Alexander Fabig, head of the individualization and classic departments at Porsche. “Starting with new possibilities for individualization and personalization of individual components, through the additional range of performance parts, up to the realization of uniquely individualized sports cars, we have the right option for every customer.”

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Stellantis pledges 10-year investment for each of its brands

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Carlos Tavares

With the merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and France’s PSA Group to form Stellantis completed in January, everyone remains eager to see what CEO Carlos Tavares has planned for the new automaker’s 13 brands.

Fortunately Tavares isn’t interested in retiring any of the brands just yet, including the likes of Alfa Romeo, Chrysler and Lancia which each have lineups consisting of three models or less.

Autocar reported on Wednesday that Tavares said Stellantis is committed to a 10-year investment for each of its brands during a speech he made at this week’s Future of the Car Summit hosted by the Financial Times.

“My clear management stance is that we give a chance to each of our brands, under the leadership of a strong CEO, to define their vision, build a roadmap and make sure they use the valuable assets of Stellantis to make their business case fly,” he said. “We’re giving each a chance, giving each a time window of 10 years and giving funding for 10 years to do a core model strategy.”

Carlos Tavares

In addition to the three brands mentioned above, Stellantis also controls Citroen, Dodge, DS, Fiat, Jeep, Maserati, Opel/Vauxhall, Peugeot and Ram.

It doesn’t mean there won’t be any major cuts. For instance, Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato in April said Alfa Romeo’s still-new Giorgio rear-wheel-drive platform will be phased out in favor of group-wide modular platforms. This will be key as Stellantis makes moves to electrify all of its brands.

We could also see some brands changed, such as Chrysler which might be transformed into a mobility company. Tavares has previously described Chrysler as having the tradition of being the expression of “automotive American technology,” and has said there may be an opportunity to connect Chrysler with new areas such as “autonomous vehicles, zero-emission vehicles, highly connected vehicles.” This ties in with comments made in 2018 by former FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne that Chrysler could become the “mobility solution” in the U.S.

Stay tuned.

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