EV startup Rimac is taking control of the vaunted Bugatti brand of supercars

Bugatti's 100 years of experience designing luxury sports cars will support Rimac’s vision to create electric hypercars.

Rimac is getting a big jolt of support in its effort the become the next great purveyor of electric sports cars. The Croatian startup has announced that it is to become the owner of Bugatti, one of the world’s most iconic supercar brands.

Volkswagen, which currently owns Bugatti, will still hold some ownership in the 110-year-old brand. Under the deal, a joint venture will be formed in which VW’s Porsche unit will retain about 45 percent of the combined Bugatti-Rimac.

It was only 2009 when Rimac was founded, and another two years until the company debuted its first concept electric sports car, the Concept_One, but it’s yet to make production vehicles... until now. Rimac last month announced its production version called the Nevera that it says can go from 0-60mph in just 1.85 seconds, just slightly beating out Tesla’s new Model S Plaid and the upcoming Roadster. That acceleration is achieved thanks to four independent motors powering each wheel that provides a total of 1,914 horsepower. Top speed is an eye-watering 258 mph.

Deliveries of the Rimac Nevera are expected to begin soon. The company is making just 150 units which will cost a cool $2 million. Rimac

Deliveries of the Nevera are set to begin sometime this year. Rimac says it will make just 150 units at a price of $2.4 million each. That’s pretty typical of supercars, though — the iconic Bugatti Veyron costs about $1.9 million.

A mass-market competitor to Tesla, Rimac is not. But that also means we’re a lot less skeptical of Rimac than other electric car upstarts. It’s much easier to make an electric car when cost isn’t an issue and you’re just selling to a small handful of wealthy elites.

By merging with Bugatti, Rimac will be able to take advantage of Bugatti’s decades of experience designing cars optimized for maximum speed and efficiency. And Bugatti could incorporate Rimac’s electric powertrains to release an electric car with its designs. Indeed, Mate Rimac, the 33-year-old founder of Rimac, said that fully electric Bugattis are now on the horizon.

Electric supercars — Other supercar makers have been reticent about going into all-electric vehicles, with Lamborghini once saying that battery-electric vehicles would never be an option for high-performance cars.

There was long concern that electric motors couldn’t provide the performance expected from a Lamborghini. And electric cars don’t provide the same satisfying roar of a combustion engine. For buyers of super-fast cars, the practicality offered by electrification doesn’t matter nearly as much as the sound and feel of the vehicle.

But other automakers like Tesla have made significant progress in developing battery-electric systems that can provide significant power without problems like overheating. Regulation could also put a squeeze on the sports car market. And so, Lamborghini recently broke from its stance and said that it will partially electrify its entire lineup by 2024 by making them hybrid-electrics. An all-electric Lamborghini will arrive in the next decade.

That may seem like a long time in such a fast-changing market, but people will always lust over Lamborghinis. Rimac could now benefit from the same demand for Bugattis to buoy its upstart brand.