Automobili Pininfarina: A New Breed of Luxury Electric Cars?

A while back, Pininfarina, the famous Italian design firm, was bought by Mahindra, the Indian car/truck/tractor manufacturer. And yes, honestly, that was kind of troubling on the face of it. But now, the “new” Pininfarina is getting into the luxury car business is a very odd way:

They’re going to take on Tesla.

Waxing Poetics

Pininfarina really needs no introduction. They were, for all intents and purposes, Ferrari’s non-in-house-in-house designers for decades. They have a history of designing some of the most beautiful cars the world has ever seen. They also, for a brief period of time, “manufactured” their own cars. Okay, what they really did was re-badge Fiats with Pininfarina badges and sell them under their name when Fiat was tanking for the final time in North America in the late 70s and early 80s.

But now, carrying on in that vein under their new corporate owners, Pininfarina looks to be “the world’s newest car brand, with a plan to sustainably develop and produce fully-electric, ultra-luxury cars at the pinnacle of design and desirability in their respective segments.”

What?

Cutting Through The Clutter

This simultaneously makes lots of sense and is utterly confusing. A new ultra-luxury car brand? Sustainably develop and produce cars? Cars at the pinnacle of design and desirability? Sure, makes complete sense. Develop and produce fully-electric cars? Again: What? Sure, that makes a certain kind of sense: EVs are on their way; we’re going to need more of them and less ICE powered cars yadda-yadda-yadda; go high-end because the rich can afford this.

All of that makes sense, but this is Pininfarina. The same guys that made such hairy-chested rides as the Ferrari 275 and the F40? The same guys that designed cars as beautiful and sublime as the Ferrari GT Lusso?

Okay then.

And they’re not starting on the bottom rungs of the ladder here, oh no. Automobili Pininfarina (that’s the car manufacturing people now owned by Mahindra) will be working closely with Pininfarina SpA (that’s the legendary Italian automotive styling house not owned by Mahindra) on a car code named PF0 that will be an ultra-low volume, ultra-luxurious fully-electric hypercar.

Think something that looks like a La Ferrari powered by batteries that will blow any and all Teslas into the Adriatic.

Automobili Pininfarina PF0 design intent sketch. The company says their goal is to have the vehicle hit 62 mph in less than two seconds, top out at 250 mph, and provide a zero emissions range of over 300 miles. Photo: Automobili Pininfarina.

Global Presence

And from here, it gets even more interesting. Automobili Pininfarina will continue its ongoing technical collaboration with the Mahindra Racing Formula E team. Racing improves the bread, after all.

The long-term plan is for the new Automobili Pininfarina to deliver a range of vehicles across the globe, although North America will likely be the largest market. The company says they will present the first customer with their car in less than two years and that it will come with “unmatched performance and unprecedented heritage.”

The PF0 will run you between two and $2.5 million, and once that sets the world ablaze, it will be followed by a series of low-volume, all-electric vehicles including luxury SUVs. And they say all of this will be “sold and serviced through a network of experienced luxury car retailers,” but give absolutely zero details on what that network of experienced luxury car retailers will be.

From an operational headquarters in Munich, Germany, Automobili Pininfarina is targeting a 2020 market launch. Photo: Automobili Pininfarina.

Talented Team

The other interesting item in all this marketing hype is that Pininfarina has Paolo Dellacha sitting on the company’s board as Product and Platform Director. In singing Paolo’s praises, they note that he spent nearly two decades in computer-aided engineering, testing, and engineering and design roles at Ferrari, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo. And that he is a published author of automotive technical papers and was part of the team that secured drivetrain and chassis patents for Ferrari.

If my memory serves, I think Paolo Dellacha was the guy that came up with the Magna-ride variable shock-absorber for Ferrari that they then sold (and leased back) to Chevy. If that’s the case, Dellacha could do some very interesting stuff, given the opportunity – think tying in a fully active suspension with an all-electric drivetrain to dramatically increase performance.

Sounds like this could be fun. And given it’s coming from Pininfarina, it will probably look gorgeous.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

Photos & Source: Automobili Pininfarina.

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