There came a time, not all that long ago, when electric cars reached a turning point. They transitioned from niche engineering projects, bought only by early adopters and passionate environmentalists to viable, real-world, mass-produced vehicles.
For that to happen, the technology within needed to impress and – crucially – prove it could match or outperform their petrol-powered equivalents. While that point has been surpassed, an entirely new turning point has been brought about by the arrival of Automobili Pininfarina Battista.
It is difficult to find the words to describe the sensation of going from a standstill to 60mph in 1.8-seconds. In fact, it’s impossible without reverting to expletives, which is precisely what came out when doing just that on a quiet country road in Italy’s Piemonte region.
Sat cosseted in an alcantara lined seat, with three digital screens and a batmobile-esque octagonal steering wheel in front of me, I pressed the peddle that triggered the surge of electrons from the Battista’s 120kWh battery into its four motors – one mounted on each wheel.
The impact – and that really is the best word to describe it – is seismic and brutal. Every organ, blood cell and fibre get pinned to the seatback, while the absence of any engine noise or rumble is replaced by a finely-tuned 54Hz frequency which is pumped through the car’s speakers.
Enclosed in the rigid carbon-fibre monocoque cell that makes up the cabin and main structure of the car, only the sound of gravel being picked up from the tarmac suggests you’re still routed to the road – not surging through space at warp speed.
While the much of the car’s underpinnings and hardware stem from the equally speedy Rimac Nevera, Pininfarina’s long 92-year history as the world’s most prestigious car design firm – or ‘carrozzeria’ in Italian – mean the Battista is as easy on the eye as it is fast footed.
Since Automobili Pininfarina was created in 2018 with the single purpose of bringing to life the founder Battista “Pinin” Farina’s dream of producing a line of Pinnifarina-badged cars, the Battista has a very special place in the company’s history.
Leaning on Pininfarina’s experience in designing the likes of the Ferrari 250 SWB, the Alfa Romeo Spider and the Ferrari Testarossa to name but a few, creating the Battista fell to Chief Design Officer Davide Amantea.
“When I first heard Pininfarina was making its own car, I left what I was doing immediately – it was a no brainer,” he says with a smile, glancing over at the finished car. “Pininfarina finally became a car maker. It was using all the tricks, all the heritage – Battista is the beginning of a new era.
“We accepted the challenge to turn Battista’s dream into reality and to be able to do that using entirely new technology. Battista now shows to the people that an electric car can be beautiful.”
“I left what I was doing immediately – it was a no brainer…”
Alongside a crack team of engineers Chief Product and Engineering Officer Paolo Dellachà, and former F1 and Formula E driver Nick Heidfield – more affectionately known as ‘Quick Nick’ after he set the hill climb record at Goodwood in 1999 – the Battista was formed, honed and perfected into a machine that re-writes the performance car rule book.
“Between the engineers and designers, we fight a lot but at the end of the day, we want the same thing – the car should be beautiful. As Paolo ‘Battista’ Farina said in the very beginning, ‘above all, it must be beautiful’. This is the spirit that brings the whole team together,” adds Amantea.
Of course, that rich blend of design heritage and mind-boggling performance comes at a cost. If you’re one of the lucky 150 people who will get their hands on a Battista, then you’ll likely already be aware of the £2million price tag that comes with it.
That puts Pininfarina’s first born firmly in the sights of the likes of well-established hypercar maker Bugatti. Still, there’s nothing quite like it on the market – save for the Rimac Nevera – so paying that kind of money for an Italian crafted, all-electric hypercar might not seem like such a ludicrous proposition.
With more to come from the Automobili Pininfarina stable, including an SUV in next few years, the future looks bright – not to mention fast – for a marque with a design pedigree like no other. Expect to see a Battista coming to a highly exclusive concours show once they start arriving with their new owners later this year. With so few being produced and such outlandish performance from those that make it out into the wild, catching a glimpse of this automotive milestone will be a rare treat indeed.
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