Dave Amantea has only one word for it: “Crazy”.
He talks about the Automobili Pininfarina Battista, the all-electric hypercar — because “supercar” is no longer enough — which has now entered production and to which he has devoted himself in recent years. Is it fast? Well, it’s the fastest and most powerful Italian road car in history; it has a top speed of 217 mph. Quick to the mark? It does 0-60 mph in 1.8 seconds, and that’s not a typo. But there’s more: unexpectedly, and above all radically, the two-seater Battista is actually comfortable.
“Driving, say, a Ferrari F40 [long distance] just isn’t a great experience,” says Automobili Pininfarina design director Amantea, risking the wrath of the Maranello men. “The appeal of this F40 is limited to the dream in the minds of the drivers. But the actual experience does not match the dream of how you might imagine being able to use the car every day. I think with the Battista , our customers understand that they get both.These guys could have any car on earth and they tell us it’s what they’ve been looking for for so long.
He infers that men of a certain age, who have earned their money – and with the Battista’s prize money of around $2 million, they will need it – are mostly concerned that their sore backs and creaking legs will be supported by a vehicle straight out of their teenage fantasies. If that sounds like an odd statement, then think again. Automobili Pininfarina may be onto something, like when Ferrari finally thought of adding a cup holder with its 2008 California. The engineers finally gave in to those who could read the market.
“There are customers who have had hypercars before, there are collectors, but there are also those who have already completely converted to electric but who aspire to something more beautiful, more rare, but also more usable”, underlines Paolo Dellachà, product manager of Automobili Pininfarina. and engineer officer. That’s why, he says, the Battista’s battery — the biggest, heaviest thing any electric car design has to figure out what to do with (and which offers 300-mile range here) — is reconfigured. not only to improve the car. driving experience, using all that weight to help pin it to the road, but also to give more room in the cabin.
That doesn’t sound very romantic, especially in the rarefied sporting sector of the auto industry, which is historically based on performance, not lavishness. But as Amantea notes, “The problem is that [so much of the industry] grew up [in love] with the smell of gasoline and the sound of the exhaust pipe. But we have to rethink what the new generations of luxury cars can be. »
“I don’t think the conversation is about whether the future of the luxury car market lies in one segment or another,” adds Amantea, who helped design Bentley’s Bentayga SUV, “but how it fulfills the really rich people’s desire to own something that gives a different level of experience that other people can’t access.It doesn’t matter if in 50 years cars will be flying, going on water or floating on magnets like Maglev. What matters is the definition of luxury now, how you can open a door to a new experience.
Add Pininfarina’s legacy to the Battista
Automobili Pininfarina has its own unique history in the luxury sector. Pininfarina SpA is the famous auto bodybuilder and stylist for hire, working since 1930 with just about every Italian giant – among many other automakers – to bring us models like the 1966 Alfa Romeo Spider, the 2007 Maserati GranTurismo, the Ferrari 250 GTE, Dino 246 GTS and, heck, just about every acclaimed Ferrari to date. In recent years, she has successfully dabbled in designing everything from football stadiums to bullpen, yachts, jewelry and bicycles.
The Battista is named after the company’s founder, Battista “Pinin” Farina. So Automobili Pininfarina, although technically a separate sister company, is clearly capitalizing on this esteemed name, putting the badge squarely on the bonnet this time. Indeed, Amantea and Dellachà may want to have their panettone and eat it too.
“We don’t want to spoil all this legacy of more than 92 years, but we want to use it to shape another 100 years of history,” says Amantea. “People expect new things.”
Although Pininfarina designed many classic cars and even manufactured a few, he never got involved in what happened under the hood and never created a production model. This, Dellachà suggests, allowed Automobili Pininfarina “the freedom to start [from scratch] with the best technology available, to seize the opportunities that electrification presents for automotive design. This, he sympathetically argues, is a competitive advantage over automakers somewhat locked in the safety of combustion-engine products in the face of an inevitable transition. Meanwhile, Automobili Pininfarina, and a few others, are carving out a new market segment.
A durable hypercar with sex appeal
The Battista, then, advances into new terrain, and very quickly. There’s the level of sustainability, not just having an electrified powertrain, but using olive oil to tan the upholstery leather and using recycled fishing nets to get the nylon they need . There’s some clever engineering with all that headline-grabbing horsepower (up to a staggering 1,900 horsepower) that, as Dellachà points out, is so much marketing unless you can actually deliver it to the wheels – which does the Battista using a dedicated engine for each of them. That gives it plenty of straight-line punch, but also improves what Dellachà calls “lateral dynamics,” ideal when the driver switches modes from the slightly terrifying “Calma” to the positively trouser-wetting “Furiosa”. Who says car manufacturers have no sense of humor?
“Physics hasn’t changed,” laughs Dellachà, “but what has changed is the technology that allows [manipulation of that].” This technology is what gives the Battista its “drivability”, which is, he says, what ultimately won over buyers of the 150 cars that will be made. “They came and drove the car, got out with a big smile and know it’s [an electric car] they can be proud to own. They concluded that it was a guard, ”he says. “We believe we are turning a new page for a new type of collector.”
But, come on, isn’t this all just a bonus? The kind of thing you hope for in, say, a premium SUV? What really matters in the hypercar field is the look. Amantea admits this, suggesting that in the rush to electrification, much of the auto industry seems to have given up on sex appeal, as if holding back that would be acknowledging the bad old days when we didn’t just drive to go from here to there as good eco-citizens.
“There seems to be this idea that electrification means you lose all beauty principles. Why, for some reason, is there this idea that electric cars have to be these ugly square boxes? is not a washing machine,” he exclaims, somewhat neglecting the promise of, say, the Aspark Owl, Nio EP9 or Rimac C_Two (with whom the Battitsa shares some parts), all VE of startups.The Battista is certainly a looker and more.These men from Maranello need to take stock.
“I’m responsible for the technology, but for me it’s just an enabler of the design,” says Dellachà. That’s something you don’t often hear from an automotive engineer. “It’s because design is at the heart of Pininfarina’s vision, a vision which, together with the Battista, we intend to stay there as an icon for decades to come.”
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