Pininfarina is possibly one of the most iconic names in the world of automotive design and has been part of building some of the most iconic cars of the automotive world. Founded in 1930 as a car design house by Battista Pininfarina and was partnered with many Italian manufacturers, particularly Ferrari, for a long time. Their ‘resume’ includes the 1968 Ferrari Daytona, 1966 Fiat 124, Ferrari F40, 1966 Alfa Romeo Spider, Ferrari Testarossa and the 2005 Maserati GranTurismo. But apart from just high-end production cars to special one-offs commissioned by certain clients, Pininfarina is a design house for just about everything. The ownership has been varied over the years, different companies owning the majority stake in the company, but in the early 2000s, Pininfarina was in financial trouble. After a series of auctions, share selling and debt restructuring while also banging out fantastic product designs, the Mahindra Group agreed to buy the car designer faction – Pininfarina SpA – in 2015 for approximated EUR 168 million and owns it till date. In fact, the Mahindra Formula E team car takes design input from the Italian car design house too.
There have been concepts since, but now in 2017, they have finally announced that there will be a new sustainable (electric) luxury car brand and it will be called Automobili Pininfarina, launched by Mahindra & Mahindra. That’s great news and they already have their first project under discussion if not development – a fully electric, Pininfarina badged hypercar. By 2020. Claims so far? 0-100kph in under 2 seconds, 0-300kph in less than 11 and a max velocity of over 400kph. Impressive figures of course and surprisingly close to those of the expected Tesla Roadster. It’s all electric so gotta talk range too and Automobili Pininfarina estimate it can do 500 kilometres on a full charge. Autonomy is there but not fully, around Level 3 for ease of use and improved safety.
The 2020 deadline coincides with Pininfarina’s 90th anniversary but it is not a coincidence. This new 400kph electric-hypercar is a step up from an earlier hydrogen-electric concept of 2016, the H2 Speed, that used a pair of fuel cells to power two electric motors.
At the launch of the new brand Automobili Pininfarina, Chairman Paolo Pininfarina explained, “this project helps me and my family to realise my grandfather’s dream of seeing outstanding innovative cars solely branded Pininfarina on the roads”. Meanwhile, Mahindra Group’s boss Anand Mahindra added: “Italy’s renowned design expertise produces objects of true beauty and unique style. Drawing upon the pedigree and design vocabulary of the Pininfarina aesthetic heritage we will develop a rare collector’s item that only a handful of connoisseurs will ever own.”
Just a few days after that launch, Automobili Pininfarina shared an early sketch of this brand new electric hypercar, one that they have codenamed the PF0. Remember, this is not a concept, but a limited run luxurious, all-electric, 400kph hypercar of which 90 units or so will be made and the starting price is pegged at EUR 1.7 million and it has a deadline of 2020.
Mahindra knows better than to get into an R&D stage and sink billions in investment to start from scratch. So, they got THE best in the business working with Automobili Pininfarina to supply the powertrain – Rimac. That’s right not Tesla, but Rimac, the guys behind the mind-bending Concept One and the even faster C_Two. Oh, and Pininfarina’s CEO is the former boss of Audi India, Michael Perschke.
Purpose of this whole endeavour? Loosely speaking, Mahindra wanted to do something special with Pininfarina in the super-luxury, high-performance segment. Electric technology is still where the opportunities, no matter how ambitious, do exist. And crucially, it is possible without gigantous investments. If there’s anyone who can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best that the likes of AMG, Ferrari, Porsche or even Aston Martin can do, it’s going to be Pinin-f**kin-farina.
What do you think of this ambitious project? Do you think Pininfarina maybe joining the electric-hypercar game a bit too late? Do you agree that it will probably still be the best looking car out there? Let us know in the comments below. Also, we’re going to try and follow this story as closely as we can from various sources, so don’t forget to subscribe to The Auto Loons for plenty more updates.