The electric sports car that Hyundai is developing in collaboration with Rimac will be a “game changer” for the South Korean automaker and will influence the way it creates cars, said Hyundai’s head of European design, Thomas Beurkle to Automotive News.
Hyundai Motor Group recently announced that will invest 80 million euro to take an undisclosed stake in Croatian electric sportscar developer Rimac Automobili.
Two models will result from the investment: a sports car for Hyundai’s N performance subbrand and a fuel cell car, likely for Kia.
The new sports car will be a benchmark that would “influence the thinking in the engineering teams in the design teams in the marketing teams,” Beurkle told Automotive News Europe at a Hyundai UK press event on Wednesday.
“You could say it is a marketing instrument on the outside but it’s also a game changer on the inside,” he said.
The design of the car needs to make it very clear it has a different drivetrain, rather have onlookers think it’s powered by a big combustion engine, Beurkle said.
“We have to speak to people who want to be advanced, who want to lead in terms of taste and style and also being less conventional,” he said. “It will be a real challenge for the design department to work on this.”
Beurkle said no decisions had been made as to which of Hyundai’s design centers globally would design the car, although he pointed out that traditionally its studios in Europe, Korea and the U.S. compete to have their design picked for new models.
He would not be drawn on whether the Rimac/Hyundai car would be more a hypercar priced more toward Ferrari territory in the manner of the Ford GT or would be more attainable.
Rimac is best known for electric hypercars, including its recently unveiled C2, which produces about 2,000hp. Hyundai was impressed with Rimac’s work balancing high-performance with the need to keep battery weight down while ensuring a usable range.
“That’s the big obstacle on performance EVs at the moment,” said Tyrone Johnson, the ex-Ford performance engineer recently hired as head of vehicle development at Hyundai Europe. “Rimac is doing things are a bit novel with respect the amount of energy you can store and the mass of these vehicles. That’s part of the reason for the cooperation,” he said.