Sneak peek: Pininfarina’s sustainable luxury electric hypercar
Munich-based Automobili Pininfarina, the world’s newest car brand, has just revealed additional details on its flagship introductory vehicle, an “ultra-low volume, ultra-luxury electric hypercar” codenamed PF0. The exclusive car is to enter production in late 2020, the 90th anniversary of the famed Italian automotive design house.
The 70 to 90 planned PF0s, which will reportedly each cost between $2 and $2.5 million, are to be the first of a series of low-volume, all-electric luxury Pininfarina vehicles including an SUV, that will be sold and serviced through a network of high-end car retailers, says former Audi exec and new company CEO, Michael Perschke.
In private meetings in New York City in July, Perschke and new Design Director Luca Borgongno, revealed the firm’s latest teaser design sketches, which show little more than a low-slung car with wheels at the corners and pushed-out fenders featuring Pininfarina’s classic sensuously flowing lines and balanced proportions. The pair confirm edthat the company has begun basic development of the electric hypercar, which they expect to attain sprint speeds of 62 mph (100 km/h) in less than 2 s, top out somewhere upwards of 250 mph (400 km/h), and provide 310 mi (500 km) of driving range between EV battery recharges.
“The PF0 will not be a Tesla ‘me-too’ EV,” Perschke asserted. “It will provide certain elite, discerning clients with unique levels of luxury and extreme performance without guilt because we are focusing not only on delivering a full-out luxury hypercar, but also ensuring a high degree of environmental sustainability.” He stated that well-heeled potential buyers will get a ‘by invitation only’ opportunity to see the PF0 in late August at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California, when Pininfarina will unveil the actual sheet metal for the first time. The public is to get its initial view of the car at the Geneva Motor Show next March.
Whereas “other EV makers have placed the battery under the floor in a skateboard platform, the PF0 will feature a large central tunnel with most of the battery pack sitting between the driver and the passenger,” said Burgogno, who explained that the skateboard configuration sits too high for a hypercar profile design.
Although other specs have not been officially released, reports suggest the PF0 will be powered by four electric motors, one at each wheel, producing a combined output of 2000 hp (1490 kW). And if the carbon-fiber composite chassis and vehicle come in under its 4410 lb (2000 kg) mass target, its performance should rival some of the quickest hypercars in the world—combustion-engined or not.
“Pininfarina has an unprecedented heritage of delivering cars that are both beautiful to look at and technically innovative,” Burgogno noted. “Creating this combination in the first Pininfarina road car is a dream come true. The design of PF0 will espouse purity, beauty, and innovation.”
Like a new carmaker
Much like Audi transformed the Italian engineering/design house Italdesign Giugiaro SpA into a car manufacturer, Pininfarina is becoming an automaker with the assistance of Mahindra & Mahindra, the Indian automotive giant. Automobili Pininfarina, a new company that will use the Pininfarina brand, is a full subsidiary of Mahindra & Mahindra, while Pininfarina SpA, the design and engineering service provider, is jointly controlled by Mahindra & Mahindra and its Tech Mahindra engineering subsidiary. “Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra Group, wanted a luxury brand,” Perschke said.
“We claim to be a startup, but with 88 years of history,” he joked. Since 1930, Pininfarina has served as a coach builder for the likes of Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Fiat, Lancia, and, of course, it was responsible for some 64 classic Ferrari designs. And the design firm also developed the look of the Cadillac Allanté in the late-1980s. Perschke pointed out that the company even has expertise in EV technology, having built an all-electric car in the 2008 time frame that it was to sell under its own badge, but the big economic downturn ended the project prematurely.
By the time conglomerate Mahindra purchased the company seven years later in 2015, Pininfarina was $125 million in debt. “Pininfarina was an operating B2B industrial supplier, but after the economic crisis, it got stuck with an unused factory and big financial liabilities,” Perschke continued. “It got too big, too fast…”
Although Mahindra is a pioneer in Formula E, the full-electric racing series, and will provide Pininfarina with some of its race-to-road EV know-how, the subsidiary company is reportedly partnering with Croatian electric supercar maker and electric component and system supplier Rimac to develop the modular underpinnings of the PF0’s electric powertrain.
Pininfarina's long history and new ownership give it a solid shot at forcing its way into a competitive, exclusive hypercar market. “We think we are the correct brand to propose this new idea of sustainable luxury,” Burgogno said.
North America, and California, in particular, is likely to be one of the company’s main sales market, Perschke said. “The U.S. should account for about one-third of total sales,” the CEO said, “with Europe taking another third, the Mideast a quarter and the rest of the world sharing the remainder.”
Attracting top talent
Pininfarina also just announced its board of directors, which includes some well-known auto industry names. Former Bugatti executive Marcus Korbach has been appointed as Sales Director and ex-Ferrari and ex-Maserati engineer Paolo Dellacha is to be the Product and Platform Director.
Ex-Formula 1 racing driver Nick Heidfeld will serve as the Development Driver for new Automobili Pininfarina team, helping to fine-tune the PF0’s vehicle dynamics. Perschke added that “Nick will assist each buyer by setting them up with a personalized driving mode,” one of five driving modes that the new hypercar will offer.
“We have attracted some of the best automotive industry talent from all corners of the globe,” Perschke said. “Now this team is focused on delivering ground-breaking, highly desirable vehicles through a business strategy which will see Automobili Pininfarina become the most sustainable luxury automotive business in the world.
“The PF0 is borne from the 50-year-old dream of Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina to see a stand-alone Pininfarina-branded range of cars that is both beautiful and technologically advanced. And at the apex will sit a flagship car of unmatched performance and unprecedented heritage; the PF0 will deliver enormous power and driver thrills in abundance.”