What are these guys up to?
Last May, Hyundai and Kia announced plans to invest 80 million euros into Croatian electric carmaker Rimac. In return, the South Korean brands will receive assistance developing at least two all-electric vehicles. We don't know just yet which body styles they will be, but at least one will be a sports car branded under Hyundai's N performance division.
We chatted with Hyundai R&D global chief, Dr. Albert Biermann, at Frankfurt this past week and inquired about a project update. While Biermann said it was still too early to divulge specific details, he did make one thing very clear: "The super-secret project with Rimac will be very limited production."
This halo car will not only serve as a warning to other brands, such as Porsche, but also a demonstration of what Hyundai (and Kia) want to accomplish in the years ahead with more mainstream vehicles. Biermann further told us he recently visited Rimac's Croatian headquarters and is pleased so far with this "very fruitful" relationship. "The technology level at Rimac is very high. It matches our belief that nothing is impossible." Hyundai is also currently working with Rimac on the RM20 all-electric race car, considered to be the brother to the just-revealed Veloster N ETCR fuel cell race car.
Previous rumors suggested, the Hyundai/Rimac sports car could be a production version of 2018's Genesis Essentia Concept. We mentioned this to Biermann but he declined to go into design specifics. Above all, "there is no time frame" as to when this secret halo car will be launched. "We are taking our time to get everything right. All I can say is that everyone will be very pleasantly surprised (by what we've built)."
We do know it will be a mid-ship design, which makes sense considering the heavy battery pack needs to be located in the vehicle's floor. This, in turn, also creates a very low center of gravity that will aid in overall handling. Biermann added that there are "two challenges with battery fuel cells: costs and durability." The latter only applies to commercial vehicles rather than passenger cars, but costs remain an issue. That's just one reason why the Hyundai N-Rimac sports car will be ultra-limited. It won't be cheap. "I can promise you it will be a high-powered EV unlike anything else out there."