Almost one year on from a spectacular crash that almost cost Richard Hammond his life, Rimac has revealed that the subsequent media attention they received helped improve sales of their all-electric Concept One supercar.
In case you missed it, Hammond spectacularly rolled one of the US$980,000 machines off a hillside at a Swiss Hillclimb event last year – in an accident which we’re pretty sure was his fault.
During the crash, the car rolled numerous times and came to a rest on its roof before bursting into flames. At just 5ft 7in, Hammond had plenty of headroom to not be seriously injured by the rolls, and with the help of bystanders was able to escape the wreckage before it was engulfed in fire.
This isn’t exactly the sort of press coverage which many automakers would wish for, but in a conversation with Autocar, Rimac’s head of sales Kreso Coric admitted that on the same day as Hammond’s accident, the company was able to sell three cars despite not having any plans to put it into production.
“The Concept One was called that because it was just a learning project,” Coric said. “We never meant to sell it. But the crash happened and we got lucky with that. We sold three cars that day. It was the best marketing ever.”
At the risk of sounding insensitive, Coric quickly added that the crash was “scary and serious” and that “it could have ended in a different way and we could have ended up needing a new job.”
Back in July, Hammond sat down with Rimac CEO Mate Rimac to discuss the incident on DRIVETRIBE. Speaking of the accident, Hammond said: “The last run of the day, at the top just over the finishing line… [the back end] got away from me and I went over the edge. There’s a slight right and a left, and as I went ’round the left the back end stepped away.”
Hammond’s Rimac managed to leave the road approximately 200 metres after the finish line, immediately following the right and left turns which you can see on the map above. The vehicle left the road sideways, travelling at approximately 130 km/h (80 mph).
Despite all of this visual evidence suggesting excess speed was a factor, at no point has Hammond ever admitted to going too fast, or forgetting to slow down after crossing the finish line – but James May alluded to this in the second episode of The Grand Tour Series 2. May said the reason they missed a train in the New York to Niagra Falls challenge was because Hammond “doesn’t know how to slow down when it says ‘finish’ across the road”. Yikes.
Luckily enough for Hammond though, Rimac’s next vehicle – the C_Two – will come fitted with a fire centre-mounted extinguisher as standard. In a clever easter egg aimed at Hammond, embossed on the leather strap holding it down are the words “In case of hillclimb, extinguish fire.”
Hammond seemed happy about the news. “I’m delighted. I’ve always wanted to have a real influence in car design,” he said. “And now I have.”