Driving the future: a look at Rimac’s new all-electric hypercar
The Nevera looks to elevate the driving experience through automation, and we ask what this means for the future of cars – and those who drive for the sheer pleasure of it
“If you’re a luxury car company, you could have more from the entertainment system or, if you’re in a sports car like a McLaren you could go to a track and let the car drive you,” said former McLaren, Ferrari and Maserati designer Frank Stephenson in a 2016 interview with Blackbird Automotive. “The car basically takes you around the track at the right speed, the right RPMs, the right gears, the right lines, and you learn through the car showing you the best way.”
Lamborghini Chief Engineer Maurizio Reggiani similarly told Wired in 2017: “[Automation] can be a tool for our customers, like having a tutor.”
With both performance car chiefs aligned on their hopes for the future of driving, it would seem those with the most to lose are eager to try to find a way for humans and AI to work together in harmony.
But while those well-known supercar makers talk a good game, many of them are yet to put their words into action – unlike Croatian hypercar manufacturer Rimac. Founded by engineer Mate Rimac in 2009, the company designs, develops and manufactures the £1.72m all-electric Nevera hypercar, which promises self-driving capabilities, initially for use on track.
“The driver coach is the autonomous driving system intended for supercars and for racetrack use,” says the marque’s founder. “Basically, the idea is that you might have a supercar but not necessarily the skills to use it properly, so it coaches you to be a better driver – when to brake, when to accelerate and when to turn in. So, you have a personal coach that is learning all the time and can, in theory, help you become as good as a Formula One driver, for example.”
For the past three years, Rimac’s team of AI engineers and software developers have masterminded ways for autonomous systems to work alongside humans to elevate the driving experience. “The idea is that you can push the car to the limit of what the vehicle can do but still have a guardian angel that helps to keep you safe,” says Rimac.
With production versions of the Nevera nearing completion ahead of the first customer deliveries, the Croatian hypercar looks set to provide those who drive for pleasure with their first taste of machine intervention.
Whatever that feeling might be when the first examples arrive on racetracks around the world, it is something drivers will need to become accustomed to. Already, automation has crept into our cars through everyday features such as cruise control, automatic wipers, lights and parking sensors. More recently, cars can perform a parallel park, avoid a collision or follow the course of a road with no human intervention whatsoever. If other realms of technology are anything to go by, these systems that subconsciously monitor, measure and aid our everyday driving will become more sophisticated and commonplace in all aspects of driving – despite what performance car makers and petrol heads may wish.
While the future for those dedicated to the art and act of driving is still shaping up, a degree of comfort can be drawn from history and the story of the humble horse. After serving as the main form of transportation for mankind since 3500 BC, the horse was unceremoniously outperformed and put out to pasture by the popularity of cars at the turn of the 20th century.
Despite this, horses are still ridden 100 years later. While it’s a pursuit largely confined to the countryside and rarified sporting circles, this tale of technology usurping the established experience could play out in the way humans interact with cars.
In the interest of preserving the freedom and skills associated with driving and the open road, we can hope there’s still some avenue to exercising the art of driving for pleasure in years to come.
After all, as impressive as Spielberg’s visualisation of the future of driving looked, where’s the fun in being a passenger?