Hyundai and Kia invest 80 million Euros into Croatian electric carmaker in return for two hi-po electric cars.
In what may be one of the stranger unions to come out of this onslaught of partnerships aimed at bettering electric vehicle technology is one that the Hyundai Motor Group has just announced with Croatian hypercar manufacturer Rimac. It involves a recent €80 million euro ($89.88 million at today's rates) investment into Rimac by Kia and Hyundai to begin a technological partnership with the hope of speeding up the Korean manufacturers' presence in the EV market.
In case you need a refresher, Rimac is a small boutique car maker that specializes in building all-electric hypercars like the 1,224-horsepower Concept One and the 1,914-horsepower C_Two. Given Rimac's experience with high-performance EVs, Hyundai and Kia could use its help to better its understanding of battery technology, build future electric performance cars, and possibly even learn how to create a better EV for the masses.
The new partners will first embark on a product development venture that will see two high-performance electric vehicles unveiled by 2020. While the Hyundai Motor Group has yet to give us an idea of how it plans to approach its electrification strategy, this move tells us that it will start by building a halo car for both Hyundai and Kia to bring attention to its EV lineup, since the Hyundai Kona EV and Kia Niro EV don't quite qualify as halo cars.
According to a statement released by Rimac, one of those vehicles will come in the form of an all-electric sports car branded under Hyundai's N performance wing while the other will be a high-performance fuel cell EV, likely to wear a Kia badge. "Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors and Rimac will work closely together to develop an electric version of Hyundai Motor's N brand midship sports car and a high-performance fuel cell electric vehicle."
What's interesting to us is that Kia and Hyundai chose Rimac as a technology partner rather than sticking with Korea's own battery giants like LG Chem or Panasonic. On the other hand, Rimac has already made quite a name for itself by supplying discerning automakers like Porsche and Aston Martin, with the former having purchased a 10% stake in Rimac last year and the latter putting the Croatian company's technology into its flagship hypercar, the Valkyrie.
Even though the investment was staggered, with Kia chipping in a smaller €16 million ($17.98 million) slice into Rimac and Hyundai posting the bigger bid at €64 million ($71.93 million), both automakers have a lot to gain in the the EV race if they can carve out a name for themselves before other manufacturers can even get to the starting line.