Pininfarina leaves other supercars in the dust with its Battista

The Italian company designed breathtaking cars for Ferrari and Lancia, but it is stealing focus with its own lightning-quick, fully electric model

Italy is the spiritual home of the super­car, with manufacturers such as Ferrari and Lamborghini founded in the country, but a previously lesser light has outshone them all. Pininfarina made its name as an independent designer making svelte cars for the big players for more than 90 years, and the manufacturer has branched out on its own to create a complete car for the first time.

The Pininfarina Battista delivers blisteringly quick performance that not only leaves its established competitors gasping, but even outperforms a modern Formula One car. Unsurprisingly, there is a touch of Ferrari about the Battista’s looks, as the company has designed more than 60 models for the famous marque, but the car’s figures of 1,900bhp and 2,300Nm of torque, with a 0-100 kilometres per hour time of 1.9 seconds and a 350kph top speed, makes it the fastest, most powerful road car to come from Italy. The catch? It’s electric.

Look through the photo gallery above to see more of the Pininfarina Battista.

With its 120kWh T-shaped battery pack providing power to electric motors mounted inside each wheel, Pininfarina says drivers will be able to travel 450km before they need to recharge, which equates to about three trips between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, from this zero-emission supercar.

“We believe there is a soft spot for this car,” says Luca Borgogno, design director for Pininfarina. “By being effectively a new brand to the supercar scene, it has made it possible for us to go straight to electric vehicles. We don’t have the constraints of the likes of Porsche or Ferrari, where they have to build something that resembles a 911 or a 488, and with all due respect because I like Porsche and Ferrari. For us, this is a great advantage.”

Battista “Pinin” Farina formed the design company in 1928 alongside car builder Vincenzo Lancia, and in 1951 Farina met Enzo Ferrari and agreed to design models for the carmaker. Farina was behind some of the most beautiful cars Ferrari produced. Today, the brand’s team has designed cars not only for Lancia and Ferrari, but also for Honda, Alfa Romeo, Peugeot, Maserati, BMW and Renault, among others.

We are in a great position because the Pininfarina name has such great heritage as an established designer

Luca Borgogno, design director, Pininfarina

The business is divided in two, with Pininfarina SpA continuing to contract out to manufacturers as independent designers, as well as working on non-automotive projects such as the air traffic control tower at the new Istanbul Airport, the Juventus Stadium in Turin and the Princess R35 luxury yacht. A second business, Automobili Pininfarina, will build a range of zero-emission cars, starting with the Battista.

“We are in a great position because the Pininfarina name has such great heritage as an established designer, yet we are also lucky to be perceived as being new, with the freedom to introduce a completely new concept without carrying the baggage of heritage that weighs down other manufacturers,” says Borgogno.

Attracting 'well-heeled owners'

Priced at Dh7.3 million, the Battista needs to attract the attention of well-heeled owners beyond the scope of ordinary Ferrari and Lamborghini buyers, but with a build run of only 150 models, Borgogno says he is confident buyers will be found. “The interest so far has been better than expected, as we had responses not only from typical supercar buyers and car collectors, but also from people who are new to the exotic car scene, having come from the EV side, and who are interested in clean technology,” he explains.

“There are many wealthy people who choose to drive the Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius or Tesla for environmental reasons, even though they like the thought of supercars. Now they have the option to move into this territory for the first time.”

With 50 cars allocated for North America, 50 for Europe and 50 for the rest of the world – including the Middle East, where they are to be distributed through Dubai-based Adamas Motors – Battista will be manufactured in Cambiano, Italy from the second half of next year. This will be the first model from what will become a full range of high-end, zero‑emission cars, including SUVs, even though not every model will necessarily be electric, Borgogno says.

“We are working on another sporty project and then we need to consider the SUV sector, though our plan is to never be mass market,” he says. “We’re not saying we are an electric car company because in the future we may work with hydrogen or some other alternative fuel, but we don’t have any plans to produce an internal combustion engine-powered car."

Aside from its home-grown team of designers, Pininfarina has recruited an impressive list of names and companies to help it realise its ambitions. Former Formula One driver Nick Heidfeld, who most recently raced in Formula E, joined as Pininfarina’s chief test driver, while Croatian EV supercar manufacturer Rimac takes care of the electrics. Peter Tutzer has also joined after heading up the chassis work for Pagani, Bugatti and Porsche, and this small team, alongside other recruits, has experience that includes development work for cars such as the Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini Urus, Mercedes-AMG Project One, Pagani Zonda and Porsche Mission E electric-­car concept.

Proving that it has no intention of being a one-hit wonder, in December Pininfarina announced its follow-up model: a luxury car code-named PF1 that is due to be unveiled during Monterey Car Week next August.

Published: July 4, 2019 02:56 PM


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