Business Day - Motor News
Electric life gets plugged into SA
INDUSTRY NEWS/ Croatian electric supercar maker Rimac is about to launch here, writes Mark Smyth
As we move into an era of alternative powertrains, one of the disruptors is the Croatian electric sports car company, Rimac. It has grabbed the attention of many, not least of all because former presenter Richard Hammond rolled one down a hillside and survived to tell the tale. But that is not the main reason it has been grabbing attention — the main reason is because Rimac builds super exclusive supercars that can hit serious speeds while doing decent distances.
To give you an idea, the latest Rimac C_Two is claimed to be able to hit 100km/h in just 1.85 seconds, a figure that matches Formula One technology and which seems to defy the laws of physics. It goes on to a top speed of 412km/h.
Power is there too with 1,408kW and a truck-rivalling 2,300Nm of torque. And it’s electric, with a climbed range of 650km. Obviously it’s not going to do that at full tilt, but Rimac claims that the C_Two will do two laps of the Nurburgring at race pace, which is impressive.
Rimac is coming to SA before the end of 2018, courtesy of new distributor, Electric Life. Company founder Stefan van der Sandt started off as a humble mechanic working for a Yamaha motorcycle dealership but progressed quickly to becoming a general manager for a BMW Motorrad facility before branching out on his own.
He describes himself as “just a poor young man that refused to take no for an answer and just be a number”. Good philosophy, and one which has brought him to the point where he will open a landmark Electric Life facility on the corner of Grayston Drive and Katherine Street in Sandton.
Another facility will open in Cape Town at the Lourensford Estate.
Only a few Rimac C1 models and 10 C_Two models have been allocated to SA between now and 2020, but one C1 and five C_Twos are expected to be Mandrolli editions. These even more exclusive versions will be the first vehicles anywhere in the world to carry Nelson Mandela’s signature, approved by the Nelson Mandela Foundation. They will be so exclusive that Rimac will auction one at the Geneva motor show in 2019.
How much a Mandrolli edition will cost is unclear, but this is the point where some of those who are excited will have to walk away because the entirely hand-built C_Two has a price tag in Europe of €1.7m. Take into account exchanges rates, import duties and other taxes and you are probably looking at a price tag way north of the price of a LaFerrari. But we know of someone who has two of those so it’s not like there aren’t people with the money. And one carrying Madiba’s signature on its flank, well that’s probably priceless to the right buyer.
Van der Sandt will also be launching another brand, something more affordable and more urban. You might not have heard of Tazzari, but the Italian company has been around since 1963 producing components for major names in the auto industry such as Maserati and Ducati.
In 2006 it created its own electric vehicle operation, with its first vehicle, the Tazzari Zero, hitting the market in 2009. Now the brand is coming to SA with Electric Life having ambitious plans for these hand-built Italian electric microcars which cost €21,000 — local pricing will be confirmed when they actually go on sale in February 2019.
Again, taxes are going to hike the prices of these little vehicles but Van der Sandt says his operation has the rights to assemble the Tazzari models in SA and will be doing so in the next few years, something that should bring down prices.
Not surprisingly for a man with a passion for two wheels, Van der Sandt has distribution rights for a number of electric bike brands too, including Energica, a brand that will be familiar to anyone who is a fan of MotoGP.
He will also be bringing in the US electric bike name, Alta Motors, which makes electric endure and super motard bikes. You will even be able to rent these bikes through an app if you want to go and play for the weekend.