Pininfarina Celebrates 50 Years of Its Game-Changing Wind Tunnel

Battista Pinin Farina once said that the wind was a fantastic sculptor and that he wanted to copy its designs. That undoubtedly influenced the elegant designs this master created starting in 1930, when he founded his studio. In 1972, his son Sergio opened the Pininfarina Wind Tunnel in Grugliasco, Turin. The company is now celebrating 50 years of that happy decision.
Pininfarina Wind Tunnel 11 photos
Photo: Pininfarina
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When Sergio Pininfarina decided to build the wind tunnel, he thought it would be useful to have a way to measure how its vehicles and other designs interacted with the airflow. One year after the equipment made its premiere, the first oil crisis emerged, and the cars suddenly had to show they could spend less fuel without performance losses. The Wind Tunnel was fundamental to helping the company design these vehicles.

In a way, the first and following oil crisis helped shape the world that would realize the combustion engine was not the best solution for transportation. As much as aerodynamics and mass were improved, automobiles needed a more efficient power source. That came thanks to electric motors and improved battery technology.

Little did Sergio Pininfarina know how crucial the Wind Tunnel would be to making electric cars as efficient as possible. He probably also did not suspect that Pininfarina would become a carmaker precisely with an electric vehicle, the Battista, which was sculpted with the help of the Wind Tunnel. The electric hypercar will only have 150 units, but all of them will pack 1,874 hp (1,398 kW, or 1,900 ps) and 1,696 lb-ft (2,300 Nm).

Its four electric motors (one per wheel) will make it go from 0 to to 60 mph (97 kph) in under 2 seconds and hit a top speed of 217 mph (350 kph). We have no idea how much range it will have if driven hard. Despite that, Pininfarina says it can travel 500 kilometers ( 311 miles) with a full charge.

Efficiency is just part of the work the Wind Tunnel performs. Pininfarina also used it to improve acoustic comfort. In electric vehicles, there is no combustion engine to conceal irritating wind noises. Again, Sergio Pininfarina hit the nail on the head when he decided his company would be the only design studio at that time with its own aerodynamic testing facility.
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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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