Once upon a time, electric cars were mostly incredibly worthy – all about zero emissions and saving the planet. But they never had to be. Now we have electric cars that are challenging the pinnacle of road vehicle performance achievement – hypercars. One of the most exciting electric hypercars to arrive is the Pininfarina Battista, which has been doing the rounds in the UK in the last week of April, after Jardine Motors Group became the London and South East England vendor for the car.
I recently had a chance to talk to Automobili Pininfarina’s Product & Platform Director Paolo Dellacha about the new Battista, which has very similar characteristics to Croatian electric hypercar, the Rimac C_Two. That is not surprising because the Battista is based on the latter’s technology, which Automobili Pininfarina licensed from Rimac for $91 million. However, this only includes the chassis, battery, and motor. Pininfarina has added what it has traditionally been famous for – a stunningly beautiful body and interior design.
Pininfarina claims the Battista will reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in under two seconds, which is the same as the Rimac C_Two. However, where the Rimac hypercar will allegedly reach 258mph, the Battista has been limited to a top speed of 350 km/h (219 mph), which Pininfarina seems to think is enough for anyone. These abilities are thanks to an unfeasible 1,900hp and a gobsmacking 2,300 Nm of torque, delivered by four electric motors, one for each wheel. Even the battery is considerable at 120kWh, supposedly providing a 500km (310 mile) range, on par with a Volkswagen ID.4.
But how does that compare to a traditional fossil fuel-powered hypercar? The obvious comparison is the Bugatti Chiron, which costs a similar €2.5 million ($3 million) to the Anniversario edition of the Battista that was on show in the UK in April. In terms of engine power, the Chiron is way behind, with 1,400hp and 1,600 Nm of torque, and this makes its acceleration slower, dispatching 0-100 km/h in 2.4 seconds, although that is hardly leisurely. However, the top speed of 261mph is considerably ahead of the Battista, although the Rimac C_Two is only a few mph behind. Top speed is one area where electric cars in general aren’t yet competing with their internal combustion alternatives.
What about range, though? This is always an area where internal combustion lovers like to criticize electric cars, but it doesn’t really apply to performance cars, or any other vehicle with similarly poor fuel economy. The Bugatti Chiron is definitely in this class. It has a sizeable 100-litre fuel tank (22 Imperial gallons, or 26 US gallons) but does around 12.55mpg (10.45 miles per US gallon), so you’re only getting 275 miles of range out of that. In fact, a few years ago it got an EPA rating of just 100 miles, but that was based on a smaller 9.5-gallon fuel tank. Even with the bigger tank, the Chiron won’t go so far as the Battista if you use it as a GT car, although it will refuel more quickly. Pininfarina is claiming the Battista will recharge from 20 to 80% in 25 minutes, so you will have to stop for a coffee and a bun while you charge rather than a quick refuel. Not much of a hardship every 2-3 hours.
This brings us to the question in the headline of this article. While the Pininfarina Battista does appear to be a match for Bugatti Chiron in most respects, Tesla as always intends to raise the stakes much further. If the Roadster 2.0 arrives with the abilities Elon Musk has promised, it will sprint 0-60 mph in 1.9 seconds (so about the same as the Battista), have a top speed over 250mph (so about the same as the Rimac C_Two) and a 620-mile range (twice as far as both). But Tesla is promising all this for $200,000, 30 times less.
People don’t buy hypercars based on value, though. Pininfarina only plans to sell 150 of the Battista, and there are plenty of options for unique customization. These cars will be highly exclusive status symbols as much as they are about their leading performance specification. We’re also comparing vehicles that aren’t completely available. The Pininfarina Battista, Rimac C_Two and Tesla Roadster 2.0 haven’t reached customers yet. The Battista seems closest to shipping, having sat in one myself, but with only ever 150 on the road, they won’t be regular sightings at your local supermarket.
In raw statistics, the Tesla Roadster 2.0 should be faster and with much longer range. But is it better? Despite its performance, the Roadster is in a different market. It will be a car you use on a much more regular basis than a Pininfarina Battista. It’s even supposed to have four seats, so you could take your kids to school in it. Even if the Roadster is likely to be technically superior in many areas – and it still may not be faster round a track, because there are handling dynamics to consider – it will never be an exotic hypercar in the same class as the Bugatti Chiron or Pininfarina Battista. Ask someone with a painting collection if they select their art based on the technology of the paint used. Better is the wrong word. They’re aimed at different people. Either way, the fact that these cars exist (and I haven’t even mentioned the Lotus Evija) shows that there are few areas now where internal combustion cars can claim superiority over electric ones.