Back in May, we read several reports that the Hyundai/Kia group had signed a €80M partnership with Rimac, the developer of prototype electric sports cars. It wasn’t just a partnership agreement that was signed.
What they did sign was an investment agreement, a stake in the company that goes far further than simply signing a partnership agreement to develop a new car. Even Hyundai in Australia called it a partner agreement however when you invest in an entity, you are expecting a much bigger return than simply getting access to technology.
Considering that Porsche invested €18.7M in Rimac for a 10% stake, one would think that the Hyundai Group’s investment would be equivalent to around 43% ownership, although neither company would be pressed on exactly how big the stake was. At the time of the Porsche investment, Mate Rimac was quoted as saying that he owned 52% of the company with the Camel Group owning another 30% (valued at €30M). It is logical then that the investment by Hyundai would make him a minority owner – unless he has increased the valuation of the company by a large amount! We can’t see the unscrupulous Koreans simply giving him money just to access technology, although it is rumoured that Pininfarina did that to get the Rimac technology into their Battista hyper-car, however Pininfarina plays in a far different market to Hyundai!
Clearly it will benefit both groups: Hyundai and Kia will get access to the electric drivetrain technology that Rimac have and Rimac will get access to a load of components for their own vehicles that are tried and tested – and at a better price per unit than they could ever get as a stand-alone entity.
The plan is to embed the Rimac technology into 44 new Hyundai and Kia models by 2025 which they call eco-friendly, so consider them to be plugin hybrids or pure electric powered vehicles. To tease and excite the media about the deal, Hyundai announced a “high-performance fuel cell electric vehicle” under the “N” sports car range that the company sells.
Expect to see a plugin hybrid Genesis limousine to come to market as well. Genesis is their companion brand akin to Lexus, Infiniti and Eunos that creates luxury cars at an affordable price. The Rimac technology would probably see the light of day under this marque first alongside the N series halo sports car.
The Hyundai Group have already been using some of Rimac’s technology in existing prototype and production vehicles. The Korean group has been developing hydrogen/electric cars for a few years now and this agreement could see them come to market as series production vehicles much quicker.
All the manufacturers are scrambling to get cleaner technology into cars and so this agreement isn’t really a surprise, Rimac have shown many times that they are capable of delivering great technology.
The key for the future though will be in the materials used and the trade-off off between full power and a longer lasting battery system. Rimac may well be the ones that change the game simply by using more environmentally friendly materials to cover the recyclability of the hardware.