The Pininfarina Battista EV hypercar, unveiled in full at the Geneva Motor Show show, will be the most powerful road-legal car ever produced in Italy, according to its makers.
The hypercar will have a separate motor for each wheel that, collectively, deliver up to 1900bhp and 1696lb ft. Pininfarina says that will be good enough for a sub-2sec, 0-100kph time, 0-186mph/0-305kph in under 12sec and a top speed of around 217mph/355kph.
The powertrain is mostly shared with the Rimac C_Two, but Automobili Pininfarina CEO Michael Perschke was keen to emphasise the technical differences between the two. “I wouldn’t compare it to something like an Audi R8 and a Lamborghini Huracán. They are technically identical,” he said. “We will share probably 40-50% of the pure technical components. There is the raw skeleton of the drivetrain, but how it has been tuned – the acceleration amplitude, the drive mode characteristics – these all come from us and are very different.”
Perschke described Pininfarina’s relationship with Rimac – the Croatian EV specialist founded by Mate Rimac and partially owned by Porsche – as being that of “frenemies”, both competing and collaborating.
“We are Mate’s biggest single customer,” he said. “From an operational day-to-day point of view, we are more relevant to him than Porsche is.”
Pininfarina plans to build 150 Battistas, with sales split almost equally between Europe, the US and the rest of the world. Perschke said interest in the US has been slightly stronger.
“We have a good 30-plus down payments in the bank,” he said. “In the US, we have over 65% of the cars we intend to deliver already allocated and reserved by clients.”
The Battista is the first car from Pininfarina Automobili and the Mahindra-owned company plans to launch three EVs in the three years after its introduction. Perschke hinted that two will be crossovers to rival the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus. These will be much less expensive than the seven-figure Battista, although Perschke said: “We will probably not get down to a five-digit price tag.” The firm’s ambition is to sell between 8000 and 10,000 cars a year within five years.
Pininfarina has made several big hires, the most recent being René Wollmann, previously project leader on the Mercedes-AMG Project One. Wollmann will work alongside technical boss Christian Jung, who joined from Porsche last year, and former Bugatti engineer Peter Tutzer.
The Battista’s design was led by Pininfarina Automobili styling boss Luca Borgogno, who said his team had a battle to get the original concept through to production reality. The finished car will be homologated for sale in both Europe and the US.
The original proposal for pop-up headlight covers didn’t make production. Borgogno said: “That was a kind of dream for us to bring those back to the market, but sadly the car is for worldwide homologation and it was too difficult to do that.”
Despite its radically different powerplant and low-mounted battery pack, the Battista has kept the proportions of a classic mid-engined supercar.
“We wanted the car still to be perceived as a hypercar – and the normal proportion is with the cabin pushed forward and the rear flank very strong,” said Borgogno. “Technically, it is the right solution as well. For weight distribution, we wanted to put the most part of the car between the wheelbase and the batteries are more or less where the IC [internal combustion] engine sits in a normal car.”
Customer deliveries will start by the end of 2020 in Europe, with sales in the US and Asia following in 2021.
SUVs to follow
Automobili Pininfarina will follow the Battista with three SUVs that are all set to arrive within five years.
The biggest, codenamed PF-One, will be a high-performance answer to the Lamborghini Urus. The other two will be rivals to the Porsche Cayenne and Porsche Macan respectively. All will use their own version of the same modular underpinnings.
The fastest SUV will offer around 940bhp from a battery pack of about 140kWh, enabling a 0-62mph time of less than 3.0sec. Its smaller SUV siblings are likely to use lower-output versions of the same powertrain but their performance will still be at the sharp end of their segments.
An insider told Autocar UK: “Pininfarina has always made very special cars, but usually for other people. When we have sold cars ourselves, like the Pininfarina Sergio [of which six were built in 2015 and sold for a reputed $3m each], we have always done very well. It is not difficult to see what the next step should be. The cars will be exclusive and very beautiful.”
A source said that the Pininfarina car brand will be given an initial investment of $100m (about £71.6m) from Mahindra to fund the creation of its model range.
Mahindra intends to invest a total of about £358m into Automobili Pininfarina over five years. The new brand will work independently of its parent’s EV division, Mahindra Electric, with operations based in Europe.
From design house to manufacturer
Pininfarina's new car brand comes after Paolo Pininfarina said at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show that he hoped the dream of his grandfather, company founder Battista Farina, to build cars would “come true in the not-distant future”.
Michael Perschke: “Establishing Automobili Pininfarina as a leading sustainable luxury brand is our strategic vision and will be a dream come true."
“Establishing Automobili Pininfarina as a leading sustainable luxury brand is our strategic vision and will be a dream come true," Perschke said. "It will combine 88 years of iconic design heritage with leading-edge electric vehicle competence of the Mahindra Group and Mahindra Formula E racing. It’s a powerful combination."
Perschke has more than 25 years of industry experience, and is joined at the helm by chief operating officer Per Svantesson, who has previously worked at Volvo.
Speaking to Autocar UK, he said the company was embracing the challenge of creating Pininfarina’s first production car: “We’re aiming to do something new and modern, without losing the DNA of the company of doing timeless designs. Look at the Cisitalia: it’s 71 years old.
“We want to make sure that years from now, people will look at the car and say: 'Wow, it’s beautiful.' That this the kind of design that will hold its timelessness in 30-50 years.”