Pininfarina Battista dealer network taking shape

Automobili Pininfarina announces global luxury retailer network for its Battista electric hypercar

The forthcoming Pininfarina Battista will be sold around the globe by a network of luxury retailers, Automobili Pininfarina has announced.

Without dealerships of its own, the company wants to partner with “25 to 40” existing retailers to sell its £2 million electric hypercar, which will be revealed to the public at the Geneva Motor Show on 5 March.

Pininfarina’s network consists of 16 outlets so far, including dealers in Monaco, Brussels, Hong Kong, Toronto, Los Angeles and Monaco. The UK should get two locations: Rybrook Cars Limited in Birmingham and H.R. Owen in London, both of whom Automobili Pininfarina is “in final discussions” with.

A dozen more partners could be added worldwide over the course of 2019.

“Our retail specialists fulfil the promise for us around the world and share our passion for Pininfarina’s provenance and the potential of electrification in a luxury brand,” said CEO Michael Perschke. “We believe our retail specialists will become evangelists of the brand as they take on the privilege of caring for Pininfarina cars and clients.”

Previously codenamed 'PF0', the Battista is named after Battista 'Pinin' Farina, the founder of the legendary Italian styling house and now car manufacturer.

The Batista will produce the equivalent of 1,900bhp, making it the most powerful road car ever built. Deliveries will begin in 2020, although sales will be limited to 150 models. The rear of the car (above) was revealed last year, but the company says 20% of the design could change before its full reveal in Geneva.

The Italian company has enlisted the help of Croatian manufacturer Rimac to develop the electric powertrain, with some truly frightening performance figures in the offing.

As well as being almost twice as powerful as a modern Formula 1 car, the Battista will have an electric motor on each wheel and will generate 2,300Nm of torque – more than seven times what you’d get from the latest Nissan Leaf.

Acceleration will be extraordinary: 0-62mph is projected to take less than two seconds, with 0-186mph achieved in under 12 seconds. A top speed of over 250mph has been mooted, although Pininfarina has yet to settle on a final figure.

The Battista will feature a large battery with up to 125kWh capacity; 25% bigger than the Tesla Model S P100D's. This should return over 300 miles of range, and the company says it'll charge from flat to 80% full in 25-40 minutes using an IONITY fast charger.

The body and internal structure of the Battista will be made from carbon fibre in order to keep weight to a minimum, while a movable rear wing can increase downforce and aid braking. The Battista will run on bespoke Pirelli P Zero tyres.

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 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. The Pininfarina Battista will be the most powerful production car – electric or otherwise – ever built, and even CEO Michael Pershke says the 1,900bhp 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 massive performance figures being targeted.

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 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.”

With such astounding performance being promised, Automobili Pininfarina has enlisted racing driver Nick Heidfeld (above) to conduct testing on the Battista next year. Heidfeld, who raced in Formula 1 for 12 years and in Formula E for four, shakes his head when reminded that the Battista will accelerate faster than any of the cars he raced at the pinnacle of his career.

“Even now speaking about it, it’s not going in my head that this will happen," he says. "Because for me F1 probably has the quickest cars. I still can’t believe that this will be quicker. It seems wrong.”

Even so, Heidfeld is excited by the prospect of testing the Battista and experiencing its electric drivetrain. It’s likely that the car will have a special setting to enable all 1,900bhp for high-speed bursts, running on less than full power most of the time.

“One of the things I enjoyed most about Formula E is how you achieve exactly what you ask for in terms of torque at the wheel,” he says. “Because there is no delay, there is no misfire, there is no lag. Even if it’s just hundredths or tenths, it will be more or less instantaneous.”

Beyond that, Heidfeld is equally enthusiastic about working with a company with “such a huge history and heritage”, whose designs and coachbuilding he admired as a youngster. “For me, the primary source of emotion is the look and the style a car gives,” he says. This is why sometimes I have to pinch myself. To be in that company and help it develop one of the best hypercars the world has ever seen… I really want to make it good.”

Pininfarina Battista design

Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina once said “Above all it must be beautiful”, a philosophy that has underpinned Pininfarina for almost 90 years. It goes without saying that the Battista will need to follow the same brief, with the task being handed to design director Luca Borgogno.

He believes that the Battista will be “a treat for the eyes” when the covers are removed at the Geneva Motor Show next year. “It’s like when you have a sweet, it needs to make you smile. It needs to make you fall in love a little bit.”

As with the powertrain, opting for electric over internal combustion has an effect on the exterior of the car. Borgogno believes they need 30-40% less cooling than a petrol-powered hypercar, meaning there’s no need for the kind of grilles you’ll see on most road-going vehicles.

“It’s very clear in my opinion if you look at the latest hypercars, all the backs of the cars have big grilles,” he explains. “We want to have a car that’s a little bit more body, a little bit more sensual. And with an electric powertrain, right now it’s possible.”

Inside, the Battista’s interior has been designed to focus absolutely on the driver. Two touchscreens sit either side of a smaller, central display behind the wheel, allowing drivers to control the vehicle’s functions without taking their eyes away from the road.

“It’s a little tricky for me to imagine these huge touchscreens that we have in our cars today,” says Borgogno. “You can imagine it on a normal car, but you still have to look somewhere else, and then move your hands very far away to touch the climate control or something like this.

“For a car that is this fast - it’s a kind of a bullet on the road - you need to be very focused. So having them really close to your hands from a pure ergonomic point of view is really clear.”

Automobili Pininfarina will use a virtual-reality system to help customers make design choices when customising their cars. The company says it’s open to anything in terms of materials and colour schemes, so every model of the Battista will be entirely unique.

Such a bespoke approach is a necessity at this end of the market, and with a large portion of buyers expected to be collectors, the Battista needs to feel like a once-in-a-lifetime car.

As Borgogno observes: “We are trying to define the future of the hypercar.” If Automobili Pininfarina succeeds, it won’t just be hypercars having their rulebooks rewritten.