First Drive: The $2.2 Million Pininfarina Battista Electric Hypercar
(Bloomberg) -- Automobili Pininfarina has unveiled its first hypercar, the Battista.
The €2 million ($2.27 million) electric coupe is based on the PFO concept that Pininfarina announced last August. It is the first production model made by the design brand and, with 1,900 horsepower and a top speed of 250mph, the fastest and most powerful Italian supercar ever made.
Developed by a dream team of executives, designers, and engineers who came from Lamborghini, Porsche, BMW, Pagani, and Formula 1 and Formula E racing teams, the Battista enters the growing global market for expensive, hand-built, and extremely limited-production cars. From 2009 through 2017, sales of $180,000-and-over cars more than quadrupled worldwide, according to IHS Markit.
On a brief test drive Monday in Geneva—the first ever by a non-Pininfarina employee—I encountered a car that felt nimble and responsive to drive, with the stirring feel of silent, wild power. It will be a thrill to see what it can do when let loose on the open road or track.
That it’s electric with zero emissions makes it even more singular. With a range of nearly 280 miles on one charge and instant, intoxicating torque, the Battista will likely steal a piece of the hype—and the buyers—from other hybrid- and all-electric hypercars such as the Aston Martin Valkyrie, the Mercedes-AMG Project One, the Ferrari LaFerrari, the Porsche 918 Spyder, and the Carmen, the new electric supercar from Hispano-Suiza.
Luca Borgogno, design director of Automobili Pininfarina, says the car has generated much interest with Silicon Valley executives, who are turned on by its technical capabilities. “The fact that it’s the first-ever of the company to hit the road—and we have big plans for the future, so this is the first of others to come—is very exciting to a lot of people who love it for the technology and who want to go fast,” he says. “This is the car we will all be telling our nieces and nephews about in 20 years.”
Borgogno said Automobili Pininfarina currently has three additional cars in the works.
The car is named after Battista “Pinin” Farina, the Italian automobile designer and founder of the original Carrozzeria Pininfarina coachbuilding company in 1930. “Pinin” is slang in Italian for “short”; after he died, relatives legally changed the family name to “Pininfarina.” His company made its name outfitting hundreds of Rolls-Royces, Jaguars, Ferraris and Alfa Romeos over six decades—and has now partnered with Rimac, Pirelli, and Mahindra’s Formula E racing team, all of which provided engineering and technological support for the Battista’s development.
The Battista has a full carbon body and classic teardrop-shaped cabin encased in sweeping glass. Its doors open upward like butterfly wings and a bright LED light strip runs across the front of the car between its headlights. A slim front wing looks suspended in air, which mirrors the car’s rear wings. The active dual rear wings can automatically act as an air brake as well.
The shape of the car is meant to communicate it face-melting electric performance while retaining the sensual elegance of traditional supercars. It looks like a cross between a Ferrari, a McLaren, and even a BMW i8, with elements of each of those, but it’s singular in its own right.
“The greatest challenge is how to marry technology and history, make it look contemporary and iconic, and not force the product to shout, ‘I’m an EV,’” Borgogno says. “Technical and performance is easy, but timeless and beauty? That takes skill and experience. And the reason for us to exist is beauty.”
Inside the spacious cockpit, two touchscreens on either side of the steering wheel are angled toward the driver; all dials have been replaced by a third slim screen in the center of the other two. The steering wheel is squared at the bottom and top with round knobs on each side. Ambient lighting fills the cabin and reflects the front LEDs and the LEDs on the dual wings in the back.
Getting inside feels like stepping into any other hypercar—it’s low to the ground, with a perfectly positioned front seat that allows the arms, legs, and back to rest comfortably as you drive. The doors open lightly and easily; the car sits silently the moment you turn it on. In a nod to practicality, a lift system (standard on all models) allows the car to rise and lower marginally in order to accommodate lips, curbs, inclines, and uneven surfaces while driving.
The short test drive Monday showed the car to be what you might expect with a pure-electric hypercar: responsive, with instant torque the moment you press the gas, firm braking, and the feeling of utter contact with the road at all times. “Pedal to the Metal” is etched on the accelerator.
At the Geneva show, where prospective buyers place their orders at the company booth, Pininfarina will show three examples of the Battista: A “Grigio Luserna” Battista with anodized aluminum detailing accented in satin blue and duo-tone black and tan interior. A second Battista, with a design package called “Iconica by Automobili Pininfarina,” highlights the traditional blue of the Pininfarina brand. A third Battista, finished in a pure pearlescent white, or “Bianco Sestriere,” harkens back to the legendary Ferrari Modulo concept by Pininfarina. They each have the word “Battista” scrawled in signature font along the sides; each has a tiny black plaque etched with “Geneva 2019” at the front near the headlights.
Despite those examples, however, company executives said they expect each of the 150 Battistas will be unique in trim and color. Fifty will be allotted to North America, with the rest split mainly between Europe and Asia. Roughly half of them have been sold already, Borgogno said.
Each car will take roughly a month to build. Deliveries begin in late 2020, the 90th anniversary of the legendary Pininfarina design house.
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