What is Automobili Pininfarina?
Automobili Pininfarina is an offshoot of the Italian design house Pininfarina, which has been in the business of designing cars for 88 years. Having done so for the likes of Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and dozens of others besides in that time, it’s now owned by Indian car manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra, which has a racing team in Formula E.
The design company was founded by Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina in 1930, and the leadership has been passed down through the generations since. Along the way, the family name was changed to Pininfarina to match that of the brand. Now headed by chairman Paolo Pininfarina – grandson of Battista – the company is set to produce performance cars of its own for the first time.
“After 90 years of history, of innovation and design in the automobile, I think we deserve to have a hypercar with the Pininfarina brand on the streets,” he explains. “It is the logical step for a brand which has been a very important player in the history of the automobile for 90 years.”
So does that make this the most exciting time in the company’s history? “For me, in terms of automotive design, I would say yes,” he responds. “Because we are making a breakthrough, because we are developing a car which will bear our name.
“It’s strongly driven by aerodynamics and performance, and it’s electric. That means it’s a car for the future, that it’s a car with a lot of innovation inside.” That’s putting it mildly. According to CEO Michael Pershke, the 1,873bhp on offer is “nearly insane”.
“People are extremely excited by the technology, by the capabilities and by the zero emissions,” he continues, adding that it’s easier and more cost-effective to use an electric powertrain rather than an internal-combustion engine to achieve the Battista’s incredible performance figures.
And Pershke expects Pininfarina’s customers to reward it for moving so boldly into the electric hypercar market. He argues that they’ll have “found a car that is electric, which is beautiful, which has pedigree, which has craftsmanship, which in all likelihood will hold its value. And they’re going to be the first to have such a car.”
How is it that Automobili Pininfarina – embarking on its first vehicle, don’t forget – can build the most powerful road car ever, moving a step ahead of established rivals? “I wouldn’t say we are better, but we are for sure faster and more focused,” Pershke reasons. “For us it’s a do-or-die mission. The existential success or failure for the whole company. There’s a tremendous focus on making it work.
“The Porsche Taycan is a great car. But theoretically it could have better performance than it has, but then it would fully substitute the Panamera. So they are – in many companies – sandwiching the electric cars between the combustion-engine cars. That means also that you’re not unleashing the full power and capabilities.”