Croatia-based Rimac made a name for itself by developing electric hypercars, but the brand is open to exploring other types of powertrains. One of the technologies it’s experimenting with generates electricity by heating liquid fuels, such as diesel and liquefied petroleum gas.
Speaking to British magazine Autocar, company founder Mate Rimac revealed his engineering team is testing the viability of nanotubes. In simple terms, this system heats what’s described as “chemically different” liquid fuels to generate the electricity needed to zap a motor into motion. He cited diesel, liquefied petroleum gas and hydrogen as examples. Early tests show nanotubes have an 80% operating efficiency.
Rimac is working on the technology with a start-up that hasn’t been identified yet, and it’s too early to tell whether a nanotube-powered car will ever see the light that awaits at the end of a production line. If the system reaches the mainstream, it will work particularly well in sports cars because it will replace the battery pack, which adds a tremendous amount of weight. The trade-off is that the system will emit CO2; not as much as an internal-combustion engine, according to Rimac, but it will presumably fall on the wrong side of zero-emissions regulations.
The brand has other non-electric projects in the pipeline, but they won’t fall under the Rimac umbrella — not exactly. It bought a controlling stake in Bugatti in June 2021, and engineers from the two companies are currently working on the hypercar that will replace the Chiron. It won’t be electric. “I knew exactly what I wanted the next car [after the Chiron] to be, and we started developing a combustion engine on our own,” Mate Rimac said in December 2022. The “heavily electrified” car designed on a blank slate will get a “totally bonkers” hybrid system.
“Rimac isn’t exclusively electric — it’s doing whatever is most exciting at the time,” Mate Rimac concluded.