Introducing Automobili Pininfarina’s prototype electric hypercar codenamed ‘PF0’
Automobili Pininfarina is a new niche marque, dedicated to crafting clean-powered cars that are radical in their design, where possible built by hand, and always sustainably developed. When its first products appear in the next few years, they will be as swift and exclusive as any modern supercar. Up until now, Pininfarina SpA was best known as a design agency, a legendary Italian styling house with a long, long list of greatest hits, including Ferrari, Peugeot and Maserati. In April, the company announced the creation of the standalone brand, debuting with a €2 million electric hypercar codenamed PF0.
PF0’s calm exterior design veils staggering performance and the promise of extreme driver thrills. With electric motors providing projected acceleration to 62 mph in less than two seconds and a top speed above 250 mph, it also promises a zero emission range of over 300 miles. The full production model will be shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2019, with a limited run of 150 cars built at Pininfarina’s factory in Cambiano, Italy from 202 onwards.
‘Soprattuto deve essere bella – above all it must be beautiful,’ says creative director Luca Borgogno, echoing the words of his company founder Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina. ‘This idea is at the heart of Automobili Pininfarina. All our products have to be one hundred percent Pininfarina objects in their clarity and execution. It is about falling in love with the cars.’ The carrozzeria has sketched some of the most exciting and elegant cars in automotive design history and a lot is riding on its first own-brand machine.
‘Our rule is to join function and aesthetics,’ Borgogno explains confidently. ‘This is not the same as form-follows-function, something many of our performance car competitors do. I admire those cars too, but at Pininfarina form and function cannot compete. Instead it is about a fluidity of aesthetic and function, it is about the front expression and the sensual treatment of surfaces. Aerodynamics must always be seamlessly integrated with design.’
The brief was to come up with the most beautiful, pure-electric hypercar in the world. Borgogno studied Pininfarina’s remarkable back catalogue of cars and mentions models like the Cisitalia 202, noting how advanced it was for 1947. ‘The Cisitalia is a masterpiece in sensuality and proportion; look at the integration between the lines. It is more like a car from the 1960s.’ The designer emphasises that Automobili Pininfarina will not be making pastiche retro cars – the referencing will be conceptual. ‘It is more to do with the treatment, the feel,’ he confirms. ‘It is about bringing back the sensuality of some of our cars from the 1960s and 70s – round sections that are sexy.’
The PF0’s full carbon body is curvaceous and sculptural, encased in sweeping glass, with a single dynamic strip of light cascading from the front of the car to replace traditional headlights. ‘We are defining a car that is not over-designed,’ Borgogno says. ‘We want something that is super clean and looks impossibly simple. Whenever you look back at classic Pininfarina cars, these qualities stand out.’
Inside, the story becomes a touch more radical. Borgogno coins the cabin theme ‘vanishing point’ – an interface that delivers only the information the driver needs to know. A couple of screens sit on either side of a compact steering wheel, angled towards the driver, while key information is projected on a head-up display instead of conventional dials. ‘This is a very powerful and a very fast car, and it should be enjoyable to drive. Yet we didn’t want it to be just for the track; it needs to be usable for every day driving,’ Borgogno explains, ‘instead of placing any distractions in front of the steering wheel, as in other cars, we have a small screen that informs of the most important driving information. The treatment is very minimalistic and therefore entirely digital. How an occupant feels in the car at all times, how he or she changes their point-of-view from inside to outside without distraction, and how they relate to information sources – these are as important to us as the exterior design principles.’
All interior materials and fabric will be ethically sourced to include natural woods and paints without chemical ingredients. ‘For us the materials need to be eco-friendly but also sourced and produced in ecological ways,’ says Borgogno, ‘we are in close communication with the design team at Pininfarina SpA where they create boats, buildings and other objects to help inform our work.’ Borgogno believes it is essential to reduce waste wherever possible within the production process, both in the energy used to develop and build the cars and the materials used.
Asked if he envisages future Automobili Pininfarina products such as smaller electric city cars or family cars, he replies with a categorical no. ‘This is a luxury brand so we will not be making cheap small cars or utility vehicles. The customer we have in mind will know their design and love beautiful objects – cars, boats, buildings, art. These are people with a higher level of taste,’ he says. Above all, Automobili Pininfarina is pushing for a cleaner, greener hypercar that’s still the embodiment of desire. ‘We want them to fall in love with the cars and for the products to keep their value. Our company’s historic principles of elegance and simplicity provide us with a great opportunity to stand out from the design of most current supercars and hypercars.’ §