As 2019 comes to a close, the automotive industry looks back on one of its most controversial accomplishments that gained a large footing throughout the year: the performance SUV. Many of the world's top automakers have created entries in the segment as a melding of practicality and performance, but there's one manufacturer that's choosing to stand its ground to denounce the enthusiast-scorned platform.
Mate Rimac, CEO of the Croatian electric supercar manufacturer that shares his last name, recently interviewed with Top Gear where it was made clear that his company would not be producing any performance SUVs.
"We will not do a performance SUV. For sure," Rimac bluntly stated. “I want to make lighter cars. But I don’t want to make SUVs or stuff like that.”
The performance SUV market has been a cash cow for many automakers. Not only does the buyer pony up plump profit margins for an SUV, but they then pay a premium for performance, something that lines the pockets of manufacturers in the name of staying afloat.
Some of the biggest names in niche performance vehicles have looked towards SUVs as a method of earning additional income while still building sports cars. Lamborghini has the Urus, Audi has the RS Q8, and most recently, Aston Martin has released the DBX as part of its "Second Century Plan," a set of standards used to guide the automaker towards profitability with a performance SUV at the center. Even Toyota has said it plans to release a high-performance version of every SUV and truck in its lineup.
Rimac believes that a performance SUV is realistically as pointless as a supercar. "Who needs either, really? Neither one of those is a sensible choice."
He concedes that SUVs have a rightful place in the market, but that simply isn't the direction that Rimac is interested in pursuing. Instead, the automaker will continue to build all-electric enthusiast vehicles that are not only lightweight but also insanely powerful like the C_Two. Sensibility need not apply when referring to a limited-run monocoque supercar with 1,888 horsepower available at the oscillation of one's right foot.
As insane as it might sound, the only saviors who can curb the inevitable swell of SUVs are the consumers who actually buy them. Watching bulky people haulers take over the streets isn't an accident—it's a response to demand.
“You can’t ignore what the market wants. But, performance cars are not going away. You can still buy a Lotus Exige today. How many people are buying the Lotus Exige?" Rimac said while shaking his head.
"If people are complaining about performance SUVs, go ahead and buy a Lotus Exige. Put your money where your mouth is. The choice is still there.”
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