Some time ago, Pininfarina, a well-known Italian design company, was taken over by Mahindra, an Indian car/truck/tractor manufacturer. Yes, to be honest, on the surface it's a bit awkward. But now the "new" Pininfarina is entering the luxury car industry in a very strange way:
They will face Tesla.
Waxing Poetics< p>Creating the mess
Pininfarina really needs no introduction. They were, for all intents and purposes, Ferrari's non-in-house designers for decades. They are used to designing some of the most beautiful cars the world has ever seen. They also, for a brief period, "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 last tanking in North America in the late 70s and in the early 80's.
But now, carrying in that vein under their new corporate owners, Pininfarina appears to be “the world’s newest automotive 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".
Create the mess
It makes sense and is utterly confusing. A new brand of ultra-luxury cars? Developing and producing cars sustainably? Cars at the pinnacle of design and desirability? Of course, this is completely logical. Developing and producing fully electric cars
? What now? Of course, that makes some sense: EVs are on the way; we're going to need more of them and less yadda-yadda-yadda ICE-powered cars; go for the high end because the wealthy can afford it.
It all makes sense, but that's Pininfarina. The same guys who did rides as hairy as the Ferrari 275 and the F40? The same guys who designed cars as beautiful and sublime as the Ferrari GT Lusso?
And they don't start at the bottom here, oh no. Automobili Pininfarina (it's the automaker now owned by Mahindra) will be working closely with Pininfarina SpA (it's the legendary Italian car styling house not owned by Mahindra) on a car code named PF0 which will be a ultra-low-volume, ultra-luxury all-electric hypercar.
Think of something like a battery-powered Ferrari that will power all Teslas across the Adriatic.
Automobili Pininfarina PF0 design intent sketch. The company says its aim is for the vehicle to hit 62mph in under two seconds, top out at 250mph and deliver an emissions-free range of over 300 miles. Photo: Automobili Pininfarina.
And from there it gets even more interesting. Automobili Pininfarina will continue its ongoing technical collaboration with the Mahindra Racing Formula E team. Racing makes bread better, after all.
The long-term plan is for the new Automobili Pininfarina to deliver a range of vehicles across the world, although North America is likely the biggest market. The company says it will introduce the first customer to its car in less than two years and it will come with “unrivaled performance and unprecedented heritage”.
The PF0 will set you back between two and $2.5 million, and once the world sets the world on fire, it will be followed by a series of low-volume all-electric vehicles, including luxury SUVs. And they say it will all be "sold and serviced through a network of experienced luxury car retailers," but gives absolutely no details on what that network of experienced luxury car retailers will be.
From operational headquarters in Munich, Germany, Automobili Pininfarina is aiming for a market launch in 2020. Photo: Automobili Pininfarina.
A talented team
The other interesting bit in all this hype is that Pininfarina has Paolo Dellacha sitting on the company's board as chief product and platform officer. Singing Paolo's praises, they note that he spent almost two decades in computer-aided engineering, testing, engineering and design roles at Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo. And that he is a published author of automotive technical articles and was part of the team that obtained the transmission and chassis patents for Ferrari.
If memory serves, I think Paolo Dellacha was the guy who came up with the Magna-ride variable shock absorber for Ferrari which they then sold (and leased back) to Chevy. If so, Dellacha could do some very neat things, given the opportunity: consider pairing a fully active suspension with an all-electric drivetrain to dramatically increase performance.
It could be fun. And given that it's from Pininfarina, it'll probably look stunning.
Tony Borroz has spent his whole life racing vintage cars 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. His next book, The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me, will be available soon.
Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz
Pictures & Source: Pininfarina Motors.