Automobili Pininfarina’s Chief Product and Engineering Officer talks exclusively with Discover EV
Paolo Dellachà: “We are on a mission to make the world fall in love with an electric car.” We meet the man who having held senior testing, engineering and design roles at Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo is now responsible for development of the future range of Automobili Pininfarina’s luxury EVs.
1. What brought you to Automobili Pininfarina?
The strong desire to develop an EV sports car coupled with the opportunity to do it with such a prestigious brand in Automobili Pininfarina. This desire was reinforced when I realised the kind of target Automobili Pininfarina was setting for its product portfolio and that I would be able to build everything from the ground up with a diverse team of experts.
2. Who did you work for previously and what were your greatest achievements?
I was with Ferrari until 2008 and then moved to Maserati, where I worked until 2018. My experience with Ferrari allowed me to build a solid foundation in which I was able to acquire competencies in many different areas of vehicle development and engineering. In Maserati, I took on more responsibilities, especially on the overall vehicle concept plan and within the functions of integration and validation.
If I have to choose my greatest achievements, I’d have to say it was developing the concept of the innovative four-wheel drive Power Transfer Unit of the Ferrari FF and subsequently proposing the architecture of the Maserati Levante, following its entire development through to its global market launch.
3. What sets the Automobili Pininfarina Battista apart from other high-priced, high-performance hypercars?
First, it’s electric; the electric powertrain allows for levels of power and torque that have never been achieved before. We have also developed Battista's vehicle dynamics package to not only allow for a fast straight-line acceleration, but also a completely new level of lateral handling. This was made possible by specific tuning of the chassis and calibration of torque vectoring on each of Battista's four independent motors.
With our focus on creating an ethereal driving experience, we also looked into all other attributes such as cabin comfort and sound. The result is what we call a hyper GT; a car that you would love to drive anytime, anywhere.
4. Many people had doubts when in November 2018 Pininfarina first went public with its intention to build its own car, and more specifically an electric hypercar. Now, the decision to turn away from petrol seems smart.
For us, the decision to build our very own electric hyper GT was a natural one. We saw the world moving towards an electric and more sustainable world. At the same time, we also created it to realise Pininfarina SpA’s founder Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina’s dream of one day having a range of solely-Pininfarina badged cars on the roads.
With Battista, we are on a mission to make the world fall in love with an electric car - maybe for the first time - and inspire future generations of car buyers.
5. Have you felt a certain weight on your shoulders with this car given that it is named after founder?
It certainly is an honour to create a car named after Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina. We are doing so with targets that we believe will make him proud while respecting the tradition of Pininfarina design.
On October 2 this year, I was with Paolo Pininfarina, Battista’s grandson, at Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este where our hyper GT won the event's 2021 Design Award. Seeing Paolo’s enthusiasm and the passionate fans there made me feel even more proud to be delivering such a project.
6. Building a vehicle from the ground up is a big challenge. Is this why you took the decision to team up with Rimac on the powertrain and carbon fibre structure?
Automobili Pininfarina has always worked with world-class partners and that is why we have selected to work with Rimac.
7. What sets the Battista apart from Rimac’s Nevera?
While the Battista’s EV powertrain has obvious similarities, its peerless design, luxurious cabin and bespoke chassis tuning will give our hyper GT a unique character, making it very special even within the hypercar segment. The Battista is also in the unique position of having more than 90 years of unrivalled sports car design heritage.
8. Tell us about the bespoke chassis and pioneering four-motor torque vectoring system
Four-motor torque vectoring will be uniquely tuned to suit the bespoke hyper GT characteristics of the Battista, delivering incredible traction and driver confidence in all conditions. Energy-neutral torque vectoring will be optimised to recuperate and shift electrical energy seamlessly for enhanced range and efficiency.
For the bespoke chassis, the double-wishbone suspension components, forged aluminium wheels, torsion bars and elastokinematics are fine-tuned to take maximum advantage of the Battista’s ultra-stiff carbon fibre monocoque and perfect the driving experience. These are the key takeaways:
• Range: up to 311 miles
• Acceleration 0-62mph: Under 2 seconds
• Acceleration 0-186mph: Under 12 seconds
• Power output: 1900hp
• Max torque: 1696lb-ft
• Top speed: 217mph
• 180kW DC fast-charging capability
9. How does the regenerative braking system work?
The four electric motors, which normally deliver prodigious power to the wheels, also act as generators when used in reverse. The regenerative braking transfers the mechanical energy from the wheels to an electrical load, thus recuperating the energy.
This has several positive effects. First, with the recuperated energy, it allows the range to be extended. Second, it allows the driver to have a one pedal drive feature. This means that the car can slow down and even come to a complete stop without the use of the brake pedal which makes the car very comfortable, especially in city driving.
10. How did you encapsulate the classic styling house's ideals and long legacy in the industry yet bring it into the 21st century? And was this more of a challenge being an EV?
“Soprattutto deve essere bella” or “Above all, it must be beautiful” in English was something that Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina repeated constantly and something that we at Automobili Pininfarina adhere to very strongly.
Looking to the future while respecting the heritage is how we approached creating the first pure-electric hyper GT, Battista. This posed a challenge as this was unlike creating a conventional hypercar. With challenges come opportunities.
As a design-led company, we designed Battista with ground-breaking proportions and pure lines that include a defined centre line, a hallmark characteristic of past legendary Pininfarina icons. As engineers, we were then able to develop the architecture and the definition of the body and interior system.
The result is a car that is balanced in terms of weight being centred and distributed as low as possible thanks to the T-shaped battery and powertrain layout.
You can watch our Head of Exterior Design, Dave Amantea share his view on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCqvt7lRCmo.
11. Presumably special attention has been paid to aerodynamics on the quest to eke out range?
Pininfarina has always developed forms that are not only beautiful, but also incredibly effective, especially from an ergonomics and aerodynamic point of view. Yes, we have gone through extensive testing such as fluid-dynamics simulations and wind tunnel testing to fine tune and optimise the drag and downforce.
12. How has it been designed to be sustainable?
We created Battista as a symbol of a new paradigm in luxury, as it embarks on a mission to inspire the leaders of the world to embrace sustainability. In creating Battista we became the world's first pure-electric luxury car company – zero emission powertrain technology is now in our DNA!
For the interior of Battista, we have chosen to use sustainably-tanned leather. But we haven't stopped there. With the goal to create a circular economy, we also upcycle production scraps like leather and aluminium into new and beautiful materials.
You can watch our Head of Colour, Materials and Finish Sara Campagnolo passionately explain our role within sustainability in the world of luxury here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmlGHGvZzB4.
13. What’s your favourite feature on the Battista?
In addition to unprecedented performance, my personal favourite feature is the sound, especially in idle. Battista will deliver a unique driving experience in every sense and our team has developed a captivating in-car and external soundscape to suit the hyper GT’s DNA in all driving environments.
Through this difficult time we have been able to continue development of Battista by working safely under certain restrictions. It has not been easy, but we are now ready to manufacture Battista for clients worldwide despite the challenges of the past year.
14. When will European deliveries start, and how many will be making their way here?
With production of pre-series Battista vehicles now complete, first clients of the pure-electric hyper GT are planned to take delivery from the end of this year.
We have a network of more than 20 of the world’s top retailer partners with connections to collectors in Europe, Middle East, Asia Pacific and North America. With no more than 150 Battista available worldwide, we anticipate an even spread in each of our sales regions.
15. What’s to come from Automobili Pininfarina? We’ve heard that there will three EVs in the three years after its introduction. Will you be jumping on the crossover bandwagon? Can we expect bigger volumes than 150 cars and a lower price point?
We continue to develop plans for our pure-electric luxury vehicle portfolio, but for now we are 100 per cent focused on delivering Battista to the standard and quality we know our customers expect from a 21st century luxury hyper GT.
17. Could one of the unintended consequences of the pandemic be a wider acceptance for the EV, do you think?
I think the pandemic has caused huge consequences that will reflect in the coming years. One of those consequences is an accelerated desire for EVs. This pandemic has caused many of us to re-evaluate our lives and the impact we leave behind, especially in relation to global warming. This has put the sustainability agenda at the centre of a lot of people’s minds, and therefore, it should accelerate our transition to a more sustainable future in which renewable energies would be one focus. Ultimately, this would support the growing EV market and its infrastructure.
18. What’s the biggest long-term engineering challenge for cars of the future?
I believe electrification is the future and the technology will go through a continuous improvement process, especially concerning range extension and cost reduction. I think the biggest challenge will remain the path to full autonomous driving. I am also quite curious to see new forms of mobility in the near future which could also take advantage of the latest EV technologies.