Bruce Wayne’s EV maker readies the world’s most expensive SUV

Automobili Pininfarina, the handcrafter of €2.2 million ($2.4 million) electric hypercars for well-heeled clients, is working on what likely will be the world’s priciest sport utility vehicle.

The company plans to introduce a four-seat crossover within a year, Chief Executive Officer Paolo Dellachà said in an interview. The price tag will be between €400,000 and €1 million, topping Ferrari NV’s Purosangue, which starts at around €380,000.

“We are looking to evolve into a segment where production numbers might be higher,” Dellachà said, adding that the new vehicle will sit “in between the world of sports cars and of maximum usability.”

Automobili Pininfarina gave a first glimpse of what the vehicle will look like at Monterey Car Week last year. The electric PURA Vision SUV concept showed off there had body panels bulging over the rear wheels, a slender glass roof and pillarless doors that open in reverse for easier access.

Owned by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., Automobili Pininfarina got off to a flying start five years ago with the battery-powered Battista, which shares part of its platform with the Rimac Nevera and is limited to 150 units. With 1,900 horsepower and a top speed of 250 miles per hour, it remains the most powerful Italian supercar ever made.

The company has since released special versions such as the €3.4 million Battista Gotham, which imagines a car fictional billionaire-turned-superhero Bruce Wayne would own. Batman franchise owner Warner Bros. this month staged an invitation-only event at a Manhattan townhouse where a Battista and dozens of Wayne-themed luxury products, including a €234,000 electric jet ski and a €28,000 battery-powered bicycle, were displayed for sale.

Automobili Pininfarina is a sister company to Mahindra’s Pininfarina SpA, the coach-builder founded in 1930 that’s become famous for designing iconic Ferraris including the Testarossa. It was started six years ago to leverage Pininfarina’s design heritage for its own range of high-end cars.

Here are highlights from Bloomberg’s conversation with Dellachà, which have been edited for length and clarity:

What’s next for the Battista?
We decided from the beginning that the Battista and its derivatives would be limited to 150 vehicles, and we will stick to that promise. Our current production capacity is around 25 cars per year, so it’ll be a few years to produce all the cars we’ll be able to sell. We want to improve the product more and more. It’s very sophisticated on both hardware and software, where we will also want to add new features. In a month from now, for example, we’ll release Apple CarPlay. From the Battista platform, we have derived a few programs of few-offs and one-offs. We will be delivering our first one-off in August this year.

Will all your models be electric sports cars?
We have started electric, because it’s the technology right now that allows you to reach the highest level of performance. And of course it can be emotional, but this relates more to the type of overall performance. And we were quite into that from the beginning. But for the future, we will be exploring also different segments and different technologies.

Does that mean you’re looking into offering hybrids?
Depending on the type of vehicle and client you want to address, there are a lot of technologies available today. Electric is already quite mature. I think also hybrid is coming with many different possibilities to maximize the best of both worlds. So we haven’t taken a decision yet, but we’re looking into everything.

In the mass market, we’ve seen a slowdown in demand for EVs, especially in Europe. Is this influencing your strategic thinking?
We are acting in a global world and we look at everything that is happening, not only from the technology point of view, but also from the geopolitical point of view. But we’re addressing a specific niche of luxury-car owners and collectors. For our clients, Battista was not something that was replacing anything in their collection. It was an addition — of course, one with a different character compared to what they had. So in that sense, we have fewer limitations because we can try to address people in a very exclusive way.

And then there’s personalization, which must be important to your clients?
Yes, it’s the most important factor for us. All of our potential clients drive the Battista to experience how 1,900 horsepower feels. Because it’s a figure that could be very scary, but then you realize that the overall driving experience is fun and also easy. That level of power and torque is accessible through a specific overall setting of the chassis and the driving dynamics.

After that, there comes a moment when we want them to sit down with our designer, and it’s really a one-on-one approach. They then start, supported by our designer, to imagine how their Battista should look like, also reflecting their personality — in a similar way our Bruce Wayne edition reflects Bruce Wayne’s personality. –BLOOMBERG