Croatia could be center of auto industry in Europe: Rimac

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, accompanied by five ministers, visited on Friday the headquarters of Rimac Automobili in the suburb of Zagreb, where the company’s CEO Mate Rimac presented an analysis on how to attract automotive industry in Croatia.

Rimac, the founder of the electric vehicle technology company, believed that Croatia could be the center of the future automotive industry in Europe.

“The automotive industry is changing like never before. In the next 10 to 20 years, the industry will change more than it has changed in the last 100 years. And that is an opportunity for Croatia,” Mate Rimac said at a press conference after the meeting.

Rimac Automobili is very successful, he explained, because it started producing electrical vehicle technology at the right time when it was still a new thing on the market. He stressed the significance of the auto industry and the huge impact it could have on the Croatian economy.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic congratulated Rimac on his great success, saying that the government is working hard to create a positive atmosphere to attract new investments. The government, he noted, will try to turn the country to a digital economy, artificial intelligence, and the fourth industrial revolution.

“We have to focus on the greatest in the country, support them and send a signal to investors to put Croatia on their radar,” Plenkovic said at the joint press conference.

Rimac hoped that Croatia will seize the opportunity of change in the automotive industry. “In the last 20 years, there were two waves of investments into Central and Eastern Europe. In the first wave, companies were going into Check Republic, Poland, and Hungary. In the second wave, very strongly to Slovakia, Romania, and now they are also starting a lot into Serbia. We want Croatia to be a part of the third wave,” Rimac said at the meeting.

A good role model for Croatia, he said, could be Slovakia, a country that is regarding its size and population, similar to Croatia, but that has 130,000 employees in the auto industry.

The founder of Rimac Automobili acknowledged that a lot of investments in Central and Eastern Europe arrived because of low labor cost in these countries. “We want to attract the high-added-value investment, the investment that brings the best jobs, the highest value and the biggest growth per capita and the biggest contribution to the GDP and the standard of living in Croatia,” he said.

Croatia is a country with no history in car manufacturing. In 2009, Mate Rimac founded the company Rimac Automobili that started as a small start-up with less than ten employees. In just two years, they managed to produce the world’s first all-electric hypercar, the Concept One that became the fastest accelerating electric car in the world.

In 2017, the Chinese Camel Group invested 30 million euros (34 million U.S. dollars)in the company. In 2018, the German automobile manufacturer Porsche AG has bought a 10 percent stake of the company with 18 million euros, while in 2019 Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation jointly invested 80 million euros in Rimac Automobili. (1 euro=1.14 U.S. dollars)