Who Is Mate Rimac, Bugatti’s New Sneaker-Clad Wunderkind?
Mate Rimac’s life seems to be one for the books. A tale of a young child who, while he might not have necessarily excelled at school, did have a natural affinity toward inventing things. This curiosity for tech gadgets saw his company go from being a startup to one of the most prominent players in the supercar industry in only 12 years. The 33-year-old was recently handed the keys to one of the major powerhouses in the automotive industry. So who is Mate Rimac, Bugatti‘s new sneaker-clad wunderkind?
Bugatti recently merged with supercar brand Rimac
Until 2021, Bugatti had been one of the many premium brands housed under the large umbrella of the Volkswagen family. It has always been so since the German manufacturer resurrected the brand in 2009. However, in the first half of 2021, reports claimed that Bugatti could be put up for sale.
Bugatti had one of its best quarters ever in 2021, and the notion that another company owned the hypercar brand seemed surprising. However, the truth is that Bugatti wasn’t put up for sale but only merged with electric supercar brand Rimac to form Bugatti-Rimac. Additionally, Volkswagen still has a stake in the merger with Porsche’s help.
According to the Robb Report, Volkswagen approached Mate Rimac a couple of years ago for the Croatian brand to supply the parts for a hybridized Chiron. Rimac proposed a new hybrid hypercar with an affordable naturally aspirated engine. Instead of forking out the $240 million, Rimac needed to supply the parts and build such an ambitious car, the Volkswagen Group counter-proposed a merger between the two premium brands, with the venture falling through in 2021.
As for Porsche’s involvement in the whole business, VW Group technically never owned Bugatti directly. Instead, the German company owned Porsche that owned Bugatti. In the same sense, the VW Group owns Audi, which also owns Lamborghini, meaning that while VW technically owns Lamborghini, it has no direct control over it.
In the case of the merger, Rimac now directly owns 55% of Bugatti while Porsche has a direct stake on the remaining 45%, with an additional 23% stake in Rimac. Mate remains as CEO of the merger, with Stephen Winkelmann stepping down from his role as President of Bugatti to focus on his role as Chairman and CEO of Lamborghini.
Mate Rimac began inventing from a young age
As straightforward as his name sounds, the inventor and entrepreneur’s name has a not so simple pronunciation. The correct way to say his name is Màte Rímats. Mate was born in 1988 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. When the war broke out in 1991, his birthplace was affected, and his family had to move to Germany then to Croatia in 2000.
The entrepreneur admitted that he had a tough time adapting following his move from Germany to Croatia, often bullied for his inability to speak Croatian well. He, however, found solace in his fascination with cars and technology, usually getting lost in his projects working from his parent’s garage.
Through his professor’s nudge, he got into electronics competitions, where he found his path in technology. His inventions won several awards. He attended the VERN University of Applied Science in 2007, leaving with a bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurial Management in 2010.
Having started a company in Croatia, Mate struggled to find qualified help and funding for his startup. He, however, worked with Adriano Mudri during weekends and nights with Mate working on the technology for their invention and Mudri handling the design aspect.
The pair worked on upgrading various cars for the race track, with his BMW upgrade garnering a lot of attention. In 2018, the company introduced the Nevera, with the final development and testing completed in 2020. The company handled production and customer deliveries in 2021.