We join the 1900bhp electric hypercar's preview program, which puts would-be owners behind the wheel of a Formula E race car.

Autocar UK, By Richard Lane

© Image credited by Haymarket Media Group | Pininfarina Battista: how Formula E is readying buyers for 1900bhp EV

When was the last time you failed to wrap your head around an unbelievable performance statistic? Or, have you become so accustomed to reading silly numbers that it’s now rare for anything to make you stop and think? Personally, not since discovering that the McLaren F1 could hit 60mph in 3.2sec – a surreal time recorded by this magazine in 1994 – have I struggled for words.
That was, at least, until a moment ago, when 37-year-old German engineer RĂ©ne Wollman explained that the Battista – yet another eye-wateringly expensive entry on the rapidly lengthening ‘hypercar’ roster, with deliveries due in 2020 – will almost halve the legendary McLaren’s sprint time, courtesy of 1900bhp and 1700lb ft from four electric motors.
Admittedly, an FIA World Rallycross Audi A1 will do the same, but this is where the truly mind-bending stat comes in. Here it is: stamp on the accelerator pedal at 80mph and the Battista will accumulate speed at the same rate as a Tesla Model S P100D does when launched from a standstill. The American car, remember, reach 60mph in 2.5 seconds. In fact, it’s so pulverisingly quick in ‘Ludicrous’ mode that footage of passengers attempting to suppress laughter, tears and possibly other bodily fluids has become a YouTube phenomenon. Presumably, the Battista will demolish it for straight-line pace, despite weighing more than two tonnes. 
It’s hard to imagine how that sort of paradigm-shifting acceleration will feel. Multi-millionaire collectors who nowadays don’t open their wallets for less than 700bhp won’t have experienced anything like it either, which is why – so the official line goes – Pininfarina is running pre-delivery workshops like the one Autocar is attending at the Circuit de Calafat.
This a tight, technical track that sits on the Spanish coastline an hour’s drive south of Barcelona, and one that Mahindra Racing uses to develop its Formula E cars – Mahindra being the Indian car-making giant that bought a controlling stake in the world’s most famous coachbuilder in 2015. It is now refashioning Pininfarina as a maker of luxurious electric cars with a calling card of extraordinary speed. The product pipeline includes more practical vehicles, but similar to the strategy that Tesla initiated with the original Roadster in 2008, the brand is starting in the headline-grabbing, uppermost echelon of the sports car market. The Battista, which is to be constructed almost entirely of carbon fiber, and with cabin opulence comparable to a Bugatti, will cost around £2million. And, frankly, a Formula E car, or anything else the sensible side of a Top Fuel dragster, wouldn’t see which way it went.
So far roughly 50 six-figure deposits have been taken, securing one-third of the total production run. Given that this car is something of a step into the unknown, both for manufacturer and buyers, that’s an encouraging figure. At Calafat, owners-to-be and others who are still sitting on the fence get to meet the engineers and designers can have a closer look at a rolling chassis (due to receiving its full 1900bhp running gear in March) and, of course, drive the Formula E car.
It’s also a chance for us to catch up with a project that is a bellwether for the future of performance cars. So far, electric supercars have done little to dispel the notion that they exist as one-trick ponies that are obsessed with lung-crushing acceleration. The Battista would appear to be no different, but if such a historied brand, with engineers of the caliber that Automobili Pininfarina now has on its books, can’t make driving this thing simple fun – and engaging on a level removed from the thrill of naked speed – perhaps it really is time for us to start worrying. 
In the last year, Pininfarina’s new technical headquarters in Munich has swelled from just six to more than 100 personnel. The original premises in Cambiano, Turin, are still operational and the cars will be assembled in Italy, but Munich has been crucial for recruitment. How crucial? The last entry on chief engineer Wollmann’s curriculum vitae reads ‘Head of Mercedes-AMG Project One’, which is the road-legal incarnation of Lewis Hamilton’s F1 wheels. Senior technical advisor Peter Tutzer played an integral role in developing both the Pagani Zonda and Bugatti Veyron, while chief technical officer Christian Jung helped implement Porsche’s Mission E – the ambitious project that led to the electric Taycan. Chassis engineer Giulio Morsone then comes fresh from developing the Ferrari Portofino.
This article was originally published in Autocar UK.
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