Pininfarina's Eco-Focused Approach to Design Looks to Create 'Guilt-Free Luxury'

Pininfarina Battista
The Pininfarina Battista is the beginning of a new chapter for the Italian company. Automobili Pininfarina

In 1928, Battista "Pinin" Farina formed Carrozzeria Pinin Farina (later stylized as Pininfarina) beginning a design story that would inspire vehicle looks for the next 97 years, and beyond.

Farina's distinct styling quickly gained prominence with the company coachbuilding for Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Cadillac and Rolls-Royce, among others. Pininfarina's most prominent partnership was with Ferrari. From 1952 to 2017, there were only two models not penned by the company.

Now, Pininfarina is in a new era of ownership, backed by financing from the Mahindra Group, and positioning itself as the maker of the sustainable all-electric hypercar of the future.

The Pininfarina Battista, a 1,900-horsepower all-electric performance car, takes its name from the founder of the company. The company will make just 150 examples of the model, with the first deliveries set for this year.

Per Svantesson, chief executive officer at Automobili Pininfarina, sat down for an interview with Newsweek to discuss how the car and Pininfarina's coachbuilding history translates into where the company is today.

Per Svantesson, Automobili Pininfarina CEO
Per Svantesson, Automobili Pininfarina CEO, sits inside a Battista. Automobili Pininfarina

Svantessonmakes it clear. He looks to the company's past, and its founder, as he creates the vision for a Pininfarina of the future. "The vision of Farina is at the heart of what we do today. He was at the forefront of deign and innovation," he noted pointing out that Farina's move to put the wheels inside the chassis in 1947 was a major turning point in the industry.

"We have to include everything old luxury contains - beauty, attention to detail, choice of colors," Svantesson said. From there, the company is set to "bring on another dimension" with sustainability at its core.

The coachbuilding principles of the past will play out in the personalization offerings Pininfarina makes available to its clients. Svantesson sees the emotional connection of customization saying, "I believe very strongly that people want to be admire and proud of the choices they make .... You want to make the objects you own and the cars that you drive part of your personality."

Pushing the limits of what Pininfarina and the Battista can do isn't centered strictly on the car's powertrain. Svantesson points out that the materials, both essential to the structure of the model and those offered as design accents, were chosen because of their sustainability and link to recycling. However, because the sustainability movement hasn't fully reached its luxury goods potential, some sacrifices have had to be made.

Pininfarina Battista
The Battista's interior materials choices were made with an eye toward sustainability. Automobili Pininfarina

The Battista's carpets are made of Econyl, a sustainable synthetic fiber made from nylon waste. Svantesson says that faux leather is "not at the level we need yet" so they have given Battista real leather surfaces. Leather scraps, gathered during the cutting process, are transitioned into life as door panel coverings.

Pininfarina is taking the sustainability cause outside of its factory walls, pushing suppliers to develop more eco-friendly materials and processes. One success story sees new and recycled aluminum materials for the Battista machined with olive oil rather than chemicals.

Pininfarina Battista
Pininfarina has designed the Battista to be sustainable. Automobili Pininfarina

The move is all a push to have what Svantesson calls "guilt-free luxury" describing the end product as a balance between eco consciousness and enjoyment.

Pininfarina isn't the only manufacturer that is pushing environmentally friendly design in its models. Last week, BMW introduced a concept car that envisions the possibilities of a circular economy where reducing, reusing, and recycling are in focus. Polestar has created a similar vision and for nearly a decade Ford has been pushing messaging surrounding the use of vegetables and used coffee grounds from McDonalds in its products.