The Pininfarina Battista Electric Supercar Merges Technology with Iconic Design
- The Battista is the fastest supercar in Italy right now. Its electric drivetrain allows new freedom in automotive design. Automobili Pininfarina already calls it a revolution.
- The designers’ main inspiration came from nature. Technology made it possible to create the Battista’s sensuous curves and also to run simulations and virtual-reality design reviews before production began.
- Globally, Battista production will be limited to 150 cars, and the huge amount of design options means that no two will be alike.
The hallowed halls of Automobili Pininfarina’s high-tech design studio are located in an industrial park near Turin, Italy. Outside, the rays of the late summer sun glow on the dry grass; inside, the walls shine with bright incandescence.
Francesco Cundari, head of interior design at Automobili Pininfarina, leans against a bar table while making a pencil sketch in a book that contains both cars and animals. “In nature, there’s a reason for every design,” he says. “Form follows function.” He turns and points to the Battista, carefully tracing its lines in the air. The power and aesthetic of this electric supercar is the pure embodiment of Italian passion. “I transferred this symbiosis of function and form from nature to her,” he says. “There’s a reason for every line and a meaning behind every curve.”
What he says is true: The undulating lines are as organic as the waves of the Italian Riviera and as intentional as the switchbacks of the Stelvio Pass. The Battista’s character brings to mind another natural force: the Italian reputation for fiery passion. It’s a car you almost don’t dare to touch, and it’s hard to say whether that’s due to its 1,900 horsepower engine or its $2 million price tag.
Automobili Pininfarina Turns Fantasy Into Reality
Pininfarina is primarily known as a design studio for famous automotive brands, including Ferrari, Fiat, and Maserati. But the founding father of the company, Battista “Pinin” Farina, first dreamed of designing his own Pininfarina car decades ago. His visionary prediction from 1959 stands proudly on a board in the production hall: “The next automobile revolution will occur when cars move beyond the constraints of the internal combustion engine.”
He was right. Many decades later, his descendants turned his fantasy into reality by producing the Battista under the subsidiary startup Automobili Pininfarina. The name of the car is a tribute in the truest sense of the word.
A True Supercar
The Battista is one of the fastest electric supercars in the world. It can go from 0 to 100 km (62.14 mph) in less than two seconds, has a maximum speed of 350 km/h (217.48 mph), boasts 1,900 horsepower, and with its four electric motors, 2,340 Nm of torque. Once charged, it can go almost 500 km (more than 300 miles). The 800-volt charging system has a charging power of 250 kilowatts, which makes it possible to charge the battery from 20% to 80% in just 25 minutes.
Statistics aside, the Battista also features a superlative design. The low-lying, T-shaped battery’s position in the central tunnel (rather than under the floor) leaves plenty of room for design, which makes Cundari very happy. It gave him the freedom to let the minimalist design lines run through the entire chassis, uninterrupted by the wiring normally installed in cars.
“The electric motor gives us an incredible amount of freedom in design,” he says. The two-seater offers 128 million options to customize the color, materials, and engravings of the interior. For the exterior, 13.9 trillion possible combinations include special paint finishes, carbon accents, and lighting.
With all these options, it takes 10 weeks to assemble a Battista from start to finish, involving 10 engineers performing more than 1,250 hours of total manual work on every car.
Nature: The Greatest Source of Inspiration
When describing the car’s design, Cundari always uses examples from nature. He describes the car as having a cocoon-like cabin. Architecture inspires him as well. “A car designer’s inspiration should never just come from other cars,” Cundari says. “Otherwise, you’ll end up going in circles, like a dog chasing its own tail.”
Although he has used Autodesk’s Alias technology to digitalize his ideas for 20 years, Cundari always starts with pencil and paper to give creativity free rein. “The new generation of designers tend to start working in the digital 3D model straight away,” he says. “I’m something of a critic of this practice, but maybe I’m just jealous.”
A New Automotive Design Language
“Cars often used to be boxy,” he says. This was mainly because software development was in its infancy. But things have changed completely. “Technology has made it possible to create beautiful curves and lines reminiscent of swan necks or diving dolphins,” Cundari says. He most appreciates how intuitive the technology is to use. This makes it easy for designers at Automobili Pininfarina and also for the students Cundari teaches at Turin’s design school.
Automobili Pininfarina uses the virtual reality (VR) solution Autodesk VRED to ensure that it’s possible to experience and understand the drawings created in Alias. VRED lets designers check the designs, including material choices, with VR goggles and run simulations before production begins.
Tanned without using chemicals, the leather used in the car is chrome-free and treated using leaves from the olive harvest to minimize the impact of the car’s production on the environment. The carpeting in the Battista’s footwell is also made using recycled fishing nets. “It’s a real privilege to combine innovative technologies with Pininfarina’s rich design heritage using sustainable materials and processes,” says Sara Campagnolo, director of color and materials design at Automobili Pininfarina.
Global Battista production will be limited to 150 cars, and no two will be alike. One of the first Battistas, furnished with swanky gray and red leather seats, will soon be delivered to a customer in the United States. It has already been finished and lies waiting at Automobili Pininfarina’s facility on the outskirts of Turin. The motor starts, evoking the sonorous song of the whale, a sound deliberately chosen to provide a soothing balance to the supercar’s fiery character. “Look at how beautiful she is,” Cundari says, like Michelangelo before his David.