By Will Sabel Courtney, thedrive.com
0-60 mph in less than two seconds. 0-186 in less than 12. 300-plus miles of range. The electric era of sports cars sounds pretty good.
Will is the former managing editor of RIDES Magazine and the former online editor for 0-60 Magazine. He has worked for Time Out New York and Rolling Stone, and was the creator of College Cars Online, the first automotive blog specifically targeted at college students and young professionals.
When pen is finally put to paper for the history books about transportation in the 21st Century, the span between 2010 and 2030 will probably seem like the tipping point for electric vehicles—the moment in time when enough little things came together to push battery-powered cars from novelty to mainstream acceptance, propelling them to equity with their internal-combustion compatriots. And the forthcoming Pininfarina PF0 supercar will, in all likelihood, earn a mention in those pages. Because while it won’t be the first pure electric sports car when it arrives in 2020…it’ll probably the first one people truly lust for.
Sure, there’s the second-gen Tesla Roadster and its rocket thruster-enhanced performance coming down the line, but considering the number of other projects and unpleasant distractions dogging the California-based EV company, the odds of it reaching the streets by 2020 as expected seem about as likely as Elon Musk’s hairline returning to its PayPal-era state. The Porsche Taycan is sure to be a marvel of performance and technology, but between its four doors and the inky shadow of the 911 it’s forced to lie in, it’s more likely. Mate Rimac’s EV hypercars are fully worth of praise, even obsession, but their form-over-function approach is more startling than sexy.
The Pininfarina PF0, on the other hand, is gorgeous. No caveats about “…for an EV” or “…for a new car company’s first endeavor” needed, either. (After all, the Pininfarina name may never have graced a dealership marquee, but that hasn’t stopped the company’s cursive badge from appearing on no fewer than 64 Ferraris, as well as many other vehicles over the company’s 90-year existence.) The car won’t be revealed to the public until the Geneva Motor Show next year, but at this year’s Pebble Beach festivities, the carmaker granted a few journalists and prospective buyers a chance to see it in almost-done-concept-car-form at a secret showing at one of the multi-zillion-dollar estates in orbit around the fabled golf course on the Monterey peninsula.
Above: Previously-released renderings of the Pininfarina PF0
The PF0 we saw was clad in the same lively blue seen in the image below, which depicts the tail of the car. The overall appearance is a blend of the McLaren 720S and the Ferrari 488 Pista—traditional mid-engined supercar proportions, with smooth carbon fiber skin broken up only by the occasional aerodynamically-minded angle, wing, or opening. A single line defines the smooth, 720S-like flanks, sweeping down from the squared-off, high-rise hips over the rear wheels to the front axle, where it rises up over the wheels again before dropping to a smooth, Ferrari-like nose. (Adding to the McLaren/Ferrari vibes: the contrasting black roof on the concept, a color that flowed onto small support struts by the B-pillars reminiscent of the strakes breaking up the 488 GTB’s air intakes.)
That face bears a particular resemblance to the Pista, thanks to a hood that resembles the F-car’s so-called S-duct; the headlights are the most obvious difference, resembling nothing so much as half-scale versions of the lights found on the Porsche Mission E. A horizontal band of trim connects the two headlights, along with a continuous line of LED running lights—well, running light singular, really, since it’s all one unit. Remember the Ferrari Sergio, named after Pininfarina’s founder? There’s a lot of that car’s face in the PF0.
It’s in back where the PF0’s style sets itself apart from the rest of the supercar masses. The tail lamps are thin strips of LEDs mounted on low-lying horizontal planes, mounted close to the body; those are matched by a similar pair at the bottom of the rear fascia. From dead behind, the effect is almost like looking into a flower—the rear blossoming, pedals starting to peel open. Each of the top wings has a retractable spoiler mounted within, which, based on concept images we were shown, may also work like the air brake on a McLaren.
In person, the car doesn’t look particularly large, but it’s as low, wide, and long as any modern-day supercar; it’s almost eight inches longer than a Ferrari LaFerrari, and a skosh wider than a Lamborghini Aventador. That size not only helps make room for all the batteries needed to achieve the claimed 310-ish-mile range, but also provides enough space for a comfortable interior. (“Don’t expect this car to be cramped,” we were told.) While we weren’t able to see inside the design mockup, we did have the chance to scrutinize renderings of the interior, revealing a cockpit-like driver’s zone with a tall center console separating the occupants, a handful of switches, a vertical mount for a smartphone, and a dashboard consisting of a small screen with the speedometer and nav directions in the center and two “wing” displays with secondary info off on either side of the steering wheel. (Fun fact: The displays will reportedly show less and less info as the car goes faster, to minimize distractions.)
The car’s coloration is intended to be extraordinarily customizable, as is the style for exotica these days; Pininfarina design director Luca Borgogno told us his goal was to make each car so different from the other, he could know which one it was at a glance on the Pebble Beach lawn decades from now. “We want each owner to have a one-off,” he said. Many pieces of exterior trim will be available in secondary or even tertiary colors, and the body can even be left to show off its carbon fiber nature; inside, the seats can even be rendered in different colors, to visually accentuate the importance of the driver’s position.
Above: Early, minimalist renderings of the Pininfarina PF0’s interior
But the PF0 isn’t going to be all show and no go. Before we saw the car, Pininfarina’s bigwigs also unveiled a few new details about the car’s performance credentials. Specifically, the car’s electric motors will crank out about 1,900 horsepower and 1,700 pound-feet of torque; that, according to Pininfarina, is sufficient enough for the company to proudly declare the PF0 will be, and I quote, “The most powerful Italian sports car. Ever.”
The company also claims that’ll be enough power to motivate this carbon fiber baby to sprint from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than two seconds, and from a dead stop to 186 mph in less than 12 ticks of the Rolex. (The company claimed that the car would be “faster than an F-16 on an aircraft carrier,” which, as I’m sure our own Tyler Rogoway would point out, is incorrect in more ways than one.) Top speed should be north of 250 miles per hour.
The car will be built in Pininfarina’s hometown of Cambiano, Italy, in the same location where limited-run Ferraris like the F60 America and the aforementioned Sergio were built. Roughly 150 units are planned for the world (with a third coming to North America), at a price tag of around $2 million a pop. It’s a massive cannonade into the ultra-luxury marketplace, designed to clear a path for an array of all-electric crossovers—which, let’s face it, are presumably the real reason behind Indian auto giant Mahindra’s purchase of the company that enabled the creation of the PF0 in the first place. Big bucks, sure, for what might seem like an untested company. Then again, if you’re worried about the work the company is capable of…well, next time you’re at Cars and Coffee, take a look down by the wheel wells of the nearest Ferrari and tell me what badge you see.