Automobili Pininfarina, the new manufacturing arm of the Italian design house, has unveiled a ’75 percent complete’ model of its upcoming electric hypercar.
Currently codenamed PF0, the all-wheel drive two-seater will offer 1900bhp - ‘twice the output of a Formula 1 car’ - and a 0-100kmh time of ‘under two seconds’. The 0-300kmh sprint should be achieved in less than 12 seconds.
Michael Perschke, an ex-BMW and Audi boss, is Automobili Pininfarina’s new CEO and says the PF0’s range will be at least 450km and the company will be looking at providing a charging system that can replenish the battery to 80 percent in just 40mins or even less.
While Automobili Pininfarina’s head office is located in Munich, the PF0 will be ‘handmade in Italy’ at the company facility on the outskirts of Turin and is planned to go on sale in autumn 2020 priced between $2 and $2.5 million (RS 14 crore to Rs 17 crore)
The car is built around a carbon-fibre monocoque with the battery packs located both between the front seats and behind the rear bulkhead. Autocar UK understands that much of the battery and electric drive technology is being adapted from the Croatian company Rimac Automobili, which is 10 percent owned by Porsche Engineering Group.
Sources also hinted that the final car will utilise brand name equipment, such as braking systems and seats, from well-established high-end component makers.
The business plan is for Automobili Pininfarina to produce the car ‘asset light’, leveraging existing technology and using technology partnerships rather than sinking huge sums into proprietary technology. Most of the company’s efforts will go into the interior and exterior design and fit and finish.
Turning such potentially fearsome performance into something useable in a road-legal car is the responsibility of ex-F1 and Formula E driver Nick Heildfeld. Heidfeld competed in 183 F1 races over 11 years with six different teams and will be the main development driver for the PF0 project.
Just 150 of the PF0 will be produced. Of the 50 cars allocated to the North American market, many have already been reserved after the mock-up was shown to potential American buyers. Another 50 will be allocated to the European markets and 50 will be shared between the Middle and Far East markets.
The final production design will be unveiled at the Geneva motor show next March. Autocar UK, however, had a sneak preview of the design work in progress on the car, viewing a model that was described as ’75% finished’.
A classic two-seat supercar with a long rear deck and short nose, Pininfarina insiders accept some aspects of the cars’ design are reminiscent of Ferrari - particularly around the main cabin area - but say that is to be accepted considering how closely Pininfarina’s design arm works with the Maranello brand.
However, Luca Borgogno, design boss at the Automobili Pininfarina division, says the PF0 also sees the debut of a new design language dubbed ‘Pura’ which will place an emphasis on elegance and simplicity, a reaction to the aggressively modernist aesthetic that currently holds sway in the supercar market.
Although the car has five radiators, the cooling capacity needed for an EV would appear to be less onerous than for a combustion-engined hypercar, which means the PF0’s exterior is not dominated by large grilles and intakes. The main intakes - situated in front of the rear wheels - have been impressively well hidden as part of the styling.
The full-size model seen by Autocar UK also had twin active rear spoilers - which can also act as an air brake - but these will be modified to act as single unit on the production car. Active aerodynamics also extend to the car’s nose, with whole of the upper section of the nose cone acting as a spoiler which can lift up. Along with a completely flat underbody, the PF0 has an adjustable diffuser under the rear of the car.
An interior mock-up showed a cabin dominated by two screens mounted high-up on each side of the steering wheel, directly in the driver’s view.
The PF0 is likely to be the first of a number of cars from the new Automobili Pininfarina brand, which was launched after Anand Mahindra, owner of the Indian Mahindra group, bought over 70 percent of parent Pininfarina SPA. Sources say that the PF0 is intended to boost the Pininfarina badge as a stand-alone marque and that the company has already mapped out a three-stage production plan.
The PF0 be only the second series-produced car to wear the Pininfarina badge The first was the Fiat 124 Spider which, for its final two years of production, was sold as Pininfarina-badged model between 1983 and 1985.
Previously released sketches have previewed the car's all-carbon design from the rear and interior, showing a minimalist and driver-focused layout for the two-seater. A video (below) shows company chairman Paolo Pininfarina describing the car's long-awaited launch as part of "an American dream".
SUVs to follow
Previously referred to as Project Montana, Automobili Pininfarina will follow its top model (which could take influence from the H2 Speed, pictured below) 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 (0-100kph) time of less than three seconds. 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 $3 million 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/ Rs 707 crore) from Mahindra to fund the creation of its model range.
Mahindra intends to invest a total of about £358m (Rs 3,228 crore) 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”.
“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 is the kind of design that will hold its timelessness in 30-50 years.”
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