When Automobili Pininfarina set out a development and testing programme for its 1900bhp, 217mph Battista electric hypercar, the disruption of a global pandemic clearly wasn’t part of the plan.
But with customers already told that deliveries were due to begin in late summer 2021, the company knuckled down, adapted its programme and forged on with development.
Nine prototypes have now been built, including three dynamic evaluation cars sent to southern Italy for as full an engineering development programme as possible.
“It has been challenging, yes, and things have gone more slowly than we planned,” said Automobili Pininfarina CEO Per Svantesson, “but we remain on course for job one in 2021.”
The Swede comes across as unflappable and determined – attributes much needed during the pandemic response – and says he has committed up to 17 hours a day to video meetings from his Munich home to keep the Battista project and its 110 staff on track. “My wife brings me meals at my desk and the day moves on,” he joked.
The coronavirus couldn’t have timed its arrival in Europe better if disrupting the Battista project was the goal. Work was just starting on the first prototype, the test programme was due to step up a level and a management reshuffle had elevated Svantesson to CEO.
Yet at this critical moment, the supplier network shut down, transport logistics were engulfed in extra paperwork, the workforce needed PPE and Covid-safe working procedures had to be implemented.
Project engineer René Wollmann, who was on the front line of the firm’s early response, said: “We had a lot of help from suppliers, sending staff into closed-down warehouses to retrieve the parts we needed so our build could go ahead.”
Although Automobili Pininfarina may fashionably be called a ‘start-up’, its production facility and the highly skilled workforce at the Pininfarina design house’s Cambiano headquarters near Turin is well-established, with a decades-long track record of building one-off prototypes and limited-run collector’s cars.
With fortuitous timing, a new production line had already been installed before the pandemic, so the prototype build wasn’t held back by any factory commissioning delay.
In addition, the Battista is based on carbonfibre underbody, suspension, motor and battery technology made by Rimac, which has saved time on fundamental engineering.