Going hyper

Mahindra, through its Italian subsidiary Pininfarina, will be the first Indian auto maker to build a supercar

By Abhijit Mitra
  • Published 2.09.18

Mahindra & Mahindra will be the first Indian company to build a car that will be right up there with top names like Ferrari and Lamborghini in the high-performance supercar club. The newly-formed Pininfarina Automobili, a spin-off of the Pininfarina design house that’s now owned by Mahindra, has released the first actual pictures of the Pininfarina PF0, which is an electric vehicle that promises scintillating performance such as a sub-two-second 0-100kmph time.

With the PF0, for the first time Pininfarina’s famous “f” logo, which has traditionally been adorning the flanks of many of the most desirable cars in the world — most famously Ferraris (more than 60 of them), Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Fiat and others — will now move to the nose as it turns car manufacturer in its own right.

“Automobili Pininfarina is a pioneering new business conceived to create all-electric sports and luxury cars of unmatched performance and unprecedented heritage. Beginning with the launch of the first ever Pininfarina-branded hypercar… our expert team will in the future deliver a range of high-performance electric vehicles offering design purity, unparalleled beauty and innovative technology at their core,” said a company statement.

This is Mahindra’s move to break into the rarified ranks of cars that are made to deliver performance purely for the sake of it and to push the limits while just about staying on the right side of the rules that make them street legal. Naturally, therefore, the PF0 is gunning to match or beat the performance of cars like the Bugatti Chiron, Koenigsegg Agera RS or the Hennessey Venom GT. The company has been one of the most enthusiastic competitors in the Formula E racing circuit for electric cars and has been using the race series to develop new technology.

Pininfarina says that the car will have “extreme levels of technology” with the “PF0 aiming to deliver staggering performance for a road car”. It is expected to accelerate from 0-100kmph in less than two seconds, achieve a top speed in excess of 400kmph, and provide a potential zero emissions range of over 500km. “PF0 will not just be the world’s first all-electric Pininfarina-branded hypercar; it will be a pure expression of automotive art,” says the company.

Even leaving aside the hyperbole, this car would be quite extreme. The expected power output from its electric motors is supposed to be a staggering 1,900bhp. The body will be made of carbon fibre, a very strong and light material that is used to make Formula 1 racecars to keep their weight down.

Unlike the ‘skateboard’ chassis that was first created by General Motors way back in 2002 for electric cars and has become quite common for EVs with companies like Tesla adopting it, the PF0 will have batteries housed in a central tunnel between the driver and the passenger. This is to make sure that the car remains low enough to achieve the high performance levels desired. The wheels, at the four corners, is a layout that should help it handle well.

Last week, at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California, US, one of the most prestigious car shows in the world, the new automaker showed a real model to select invitees. These were people among whom Pininfarina expects to find buyers who would be willing to shell out the $2 million to $2.5 million that each of these cars — which would be the most powerful Italian-made sportscars ever — would eventually cost.

Deliveries are expected to begin in 2020. There will be only 150 of the PF0s, which will be hand-built in Turin. Further shows of the car are being planned in the Middle East and Asia. One will have to get invited to one of these shows to see the PF0 in the flesh. Others will have to wait for the Geneva Motor Show in April 2019 for that and also to know the name that that car will eventually be given.