The Rimac Nevera, an electric hypercar, has amassed an impressive collection of world records, numbering 23 at the last count. So, when news of yet another ‘Rimac record' email arrived, it may have initially elicited a shrug from some. However, upon closer examination, the latest achievement proved to be nothing short of extraordinary.
Breaking the mold of conventional speed records achieved while driving forward, Rimac set its sights on an unconventional feat – achieving a high-speed record while moving in reverse. This audacious endeavor took place at the Automotive Testing Papenburg facility in Germany, resulting in the Nevera attaining an astounding 171.34 mph (275.74 km/h) in reverse.
Modern cars often have electronic restrictions on their reversing speed due to the potential instability that can arise, with even slight movements risking a loss of control. Yet, in the case of the Nevera, an electric vehicle (EV) equipped with a single fixed gear ratio for both forward and reverse motion, the potential for high-speed reverse travel became a tantalizing possibility.
Mate Rimac, the CEO of Rimac, explained, “It occurred to us during development that Nevera would probably be the world's fastest car in reverse, but we kind of laughed it off. The aerodynamics, cooling, and stability hadn't been engineered for traveling backward at speed, after all. But then, we started to talk about how fun it would be to give it a shot. Our simulations showed that we could achieve well over 150 mph (241 km/h), but we didn't have much of an idea how stable it would be – we were entering uncharted territory.”
In the 1960s and 1970s, DAF cars with CVT transmissions could reach relatively high speeds in reverse, but the difference between nudging past 70 mph (113 km/h) and surpassing 170 mph (274 km/h) is quite substantial. Rimac test driver Goran Drndak was tasked with the challenge of achieving this remarkable feat.
Drndak shared his experience, stating, “On the run itself, it definitely took some getting used to. You're facing straight out backward, watching the scenery flash away from you faster and faster, feeling your neck pulled forwards in almost the same sensation you would normally get under heavy braking.”
He continued, “You're moving the steering wheel so gently, careful not to upset the balance, watching for your course and your braking point out the rear-view mirror, all the while keeping an eye on the speed. Despite it being almost completely unnatural to the way the car was engineered, Nevera breezed through yet another record.”