Italian design house Pininfarina has gone through plenty of changes in recent years, starting with a financial meltdown and its acquisition by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra. In April, the renamed Automobile Pininfarina announced plans to become a luxury auto brand focused on electric vehicles, and it’s now offering up a teaser image of what it will officially debut less than two months from now.
The rendering you see here of what will be called the PF0 was accompanied by an announcement that Pininfarina has appointed its first Board of Directors. That includes long-time automotive insider Michael Perschke, who will serve as the start-up carmaker’s chief executive officer. Former Volvo exec Per Svantesson has been named Automobili Pininfarina’s chief operating officer.
“Automobili Pininfarina is a pioneering new business created to service the most discerning clients in the world,” said Perschke, in a prepared statement “Our product portfolio will launch with an innovative, zero-emissions hypercar that represents the progression we aim to make at the pinnacle of the luxury and sports car market.”
What, exactly, Pininfarina has in the works is unclear. But Perschke’s reference to a “product portfolio” clearly suggests that the PFO will be just the first new model to come from the Italian subsidiary of India’s Mahindra.
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Earlier indications are that Pininfarina will follow PF0 with at least three high-performance electric SUVs set to challenge products like the Lamborghini Urus, as well as the Porsche Cayenne and Macan.
Pinfarina has wanted to reach beyond design for a number of years and, as recently as 2013, was working with Ferrari on a special project, as well as Volvo on the C70. But things fell apart quickly and it looked like the company would disappear, at least until Mahindra became its white knight in 2015.
Going forward, the company – which is now being run from Munich – will continue to serve as a design and consulting boutique enterprise. But, if all goes according to plan, we’ll see the the PF0 – short for PF-Zero – sometime around 2020.
The company has already suggested that it will be an all-electric – thus zero-emissions – hypercar. We’ve also learned that Pininfarina will be working with Rimac, the Croatian EV hypercar company, on the PF0’s powertrain. Some engineering expertise will also come from the Mahindra Racing Formula E team that has managed to nab a few victories in that electric-car race series.
Rimac would certainly be an interesting partner. Its original model, the Concept One, pumped out 1088 horsepower and weighed just 4,079 pounds – fairly significant figures for a long-range, high-performance EV. In April, it debuted the Concept Two. This electric hypercar, making 1,914 horsepower and 1,696 pound-feet of torque will get you from 0 to 60 in just 1.85 seconds and blow through a quarter mile in 9.1 seconds. Top speed is said to be 258 mph.
Combining Rimac’s electric expertise with Pininfarina’s design skills – and Mahindra’s fat wallet – could yield a truly impressive package. Earlier statements by Pininfarina hint at a top speed of 250 mph for the PF0, while range will be somewhere north of 300 miles – at more conservative speeds, of course.
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A select group of customers and potential dealers have already been given a sneak look at what Pininfarina is calling “early PF0 dreams.” It’s not clear if those included anything more than renderings like the one shown here, however.
Now, we’ll be getting a look at a full-sized version of the electric hypercar at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance late next month.
But even if you have the cash you’ll still have to wait to actually take delivery. The PF0 isn’t expected to reach production until sometime in 2020.
What might come after the PF0? Perschke was all hyperbole in his first statement as Automobili Pininfarina’s new CEO, declaring that, “This team is completely focused on delivering ground-breaking, highly desirable vehicles through a business strategy which will see Automobili Pininfarina become the most sustainable luxury automotive business in the world”
Tesla and a few other entrants into the electric luxury market might take exception, of course. But what’s clear is that, with Mahindra’s backing, Pininfarina has unleashed its ambition and now has the resources to follow through.
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Mahindra itself has long wanted to grow beyond India’s borders and, in the process, challenge its bigger Indian rival Tata Motors, which now owns Jaguar Land Rover. Mahindra’s own global ambitions didn’t pan out when it first announced plans to introduce a retail network in the U.S. early in the decade. It recently shifted gears, launching a small assembly plant in the Detroit suburbs building off-road utility vehicles.