With Pininfarina Battista, the Mahindra Group has put an Italian company at the leading edge of tomorrow’s car world
With Pininfarina Battista, the Mahindra Group has put an Italian company at the leading edge of tomorrow’s car world

Meet Pininfarina Battista, one of the fastest and most expensive cars on the planet!

The all-electric ‘hypercar’ from the homegrown Mahindra Group was unveiled to the world at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month
By Hormazd Sorabjee | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON MAR 23, 2019 11:41 PM IST

Nineteen hundred horsepower, 0-100kph in two seconds (faster than a Formula 1 car), a top speed of over 350kph, 450km range, an asking price of two million euros and zero pollution. These are the headline figures of the Pininfarina Battista, the all-electric ‘hypercar’ unveiled to the world at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month, which promises to make it one of the fastest (and most expensive) cars on the planet.

If the ludicrous power, performance and price tag are hard to digest, then even more unbelievable is that it’s the homegrown Mahindra Group, which is wholly responsible for this drop-dead gorgeous showstopper. How?

Designs on you

Let’s rewind a bit to 2015 when Anand Mahindra grabbed the opportunity to acquire Pininfarina, the most famous automotive design house in the world, which back then had fallen on difficult times and stood on the brink of bankruptcy. Known for designing the most beautiful cars in the world (most of them Ferraris) the initial plan was for Pininfarina to continue with its bread-and-butter business of designing cars for other carmakers. But Mahindra had a bigger dream. It was to realise the unfulfilled dream of Battista “Pinin” Farina, the founder of the company who always wanted to build a car for himself and not just for his clients. And it was with that long-standing aspiration in mind that Automobili Pininfarina, with an initial funding of approximately US$150 million from Mahindra, was born.

The Battista (appropriately named after the founder) is the first in a series of high-performance electric cars to be designed, built and sold under the Pininfarina brand. So, it was an emotional moment when the covers came off with a teary Paolo Pininfarina (Battista’s grandson) saying “this was a dream come true.” The first batch of the limited run of just a 150 Battistas is expected to reach customers in 2020, aimed to coincide with Pininfarina’s 90th anniversary. This project no doubt runs high on passion, but does it make business sense? Can Pininfarina find enough customers to pay two million euros for an electric car?

Signature style

The advantage Pininfarina has over other start-ups is its near nine-decade long heritage, which it plans to leverage to the hilt. This Italian design house has fathered poster cars generations of enthusiasts have lusted for and the Battista is another masterpiece.

True to form, the Battista has Pininfarina’s trademark design cues of sensuous, flowing lines and spot on proportions. There are no sharp edges, no appendages stuck on in the name of aerodynamics. The overall body form is very Italian and very classical, like the Ferraris of old, which this design firm once shaped.

The signature design feature is the unique split tail spoiler, which pops up to serve as an air brake

There’s some very interesting detailing as well. The highlight of the front-end is a single LED strip that runs across the width of the nose, but the signature design feature is the unique split tail spoiler, which pops up to serve as an air brake and helps shed some of the insane speed this car is capable of.

Beautifully bespoke

The butterfly doors dramatically swing open to reveal a unique cabin. The instrument cluster consists of three screens, which seem a bit overwhelming for the driver who needs as little distraction as possible when driving full-on. Of course, the cabin is finished impeccably with a fine mix of leather and carbon-fibre.

The cabin is finished impeccably with a fine mix of leather and carbon-fibre
The cabin is finished impeccably with a fine mix of leather and carbon-fibre

However, every car is likely to be different, as customers can choose from a wide variety of options to make their cars truly bespoke. And it’s this exclusivity that Pininfarina is also banking on to make customers write that fat cheque. The company claims to have bagged 40 deposits (200,000 euros each) and hopes to fill up the order book before the first car hits the road.

Whether the Battista gets completely sold out remains to be seen but what’s for sure is that Anand Mahindra’s spark of an idea has given the conglomerate a foot into a rarefied niche that’s at the leading edge of tomorrow’s car world.

Hormazd Sorabjee is one of the most senior and much loved auto journalists in India, and is editor of Autocar India

Sunday Drive appears every fortnight

From HT Brunch, March 10, 2019

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