In an era of inflation and financial hardship, the old ethos of “if you’ve got it, flaunt it,” is being challenged by a new trend called “stealth wealth” – the act of being wealthy without showing it off.
At first glance, a $3-million-plus hypercar – high-performance supercar – like the Pininfarina Battista seems all wealth and no stealth. We recently had the chance to see the first 1,900-horsepower all-electric Battista to arrive in Canada before it was delivered to its new owner by the brand’s exclusive Canadian distributor, Grand Touring Automobiles.
In a nod to stealth, though, the dealer was adamant about protecting the owner’s privacy. We weren’t even privy to the buyer’s province of residence.
One thing we do know is that the quiet electric Battista will be stealthy on the road. If, that is, it ever sets tire on a public road.
Many drivers use their car for daily driving and then take it to a track to let loose, says Pininfarina chief executive officer Paolo Dellacha. “And many people just put it in their collection and there the car will stay.”
Either way, Grand Touring chief executive officer Paul Cummings says that people who can afford a $1-million-plus car usually own many $1-million-plus cars. Cummings should know: The dealer also represents Bugatti, Koenigsegg and Rimac in Canada (not to mention lesser exotics like Lamborghini, Aston-Martin, Rolls-Royce and Bentley).
With “unicorn” cars like those, there’s no going to the showroom to see them. Grand Touring hosts visits to the factories for prospective buyers, not just for test drives but to meet the designers and get an insight into the cars’ DNA. “I will say it’s made a difference in their purchasing decisions,” Cummings says.
“Driving an electric hypercar is very different from what these people have been driving in the past with big 12-cylinder engines. They have to understand that, understand the technology, and it’s got to be right for them. It’s got to put a smile on their face.”
This Battista is the first one delivered in Canada, from a production run that will be capped at 150 units worldwide. Pricing starts at €2.2-million – about $3.3-million. This car is chassis No. 99, which apparently was the buyer’s choice.
One other thing we’re told is the buyer is a collector. “He was truly intrigued when he saw the car in Geneva when it was unveiled in 2019,” says Cummings. “He’s watched it evolve [and] been part of the story of understanding how electrification is going to play in the superluxury world and the hypercar world.”
Established in 1930, Pininfarina has for most of its history been a design house, best known for its long association with Ferrari (although, believe it or not, Pininfarina also designed my first car, a 1961 Austin A40 Farina econobox).
More recently, Pininfarina established an engineering services division, which, aside from contract work for other manufacturers, was also heavily involved in what Dellacha calls the “performance integration” of the Battista – basically, tuning the characteristics that determine the Pininfarina’s driving feel.
That was important because, under the skin, the rolling chassis and the powertrain are shared with another electric hypercar, the Rimac Nevera from Croatia. The Battista has four electric motors totalling about 1,900 horsepower and 1,700 lb-ft of torque, production-car acceleration records for zero to 100 kilometres an hour (1.79 seconds), zero to 200 (4.75 seconds), and a quarter-mile (8.55 seconds) and even an electric-car record for 100 to zero braking (31 metres). All that and a range of about 480 kilometres, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Does range even matter if the car is destined to preen on a perch in a private collection? “We are finding more and more in the Canadian marketplace that they are actually driving it to enjoy the car,” says Cummings. “The technologies have changed so much, there’s a genuine curiosity about driving an electrified car versus a big 12-cylinder car.”
Dellacha cites one new owner in Miami, a big collector who was expected to just put the car away. Instead, “the first two weeks, he was driving the car every day. Already almost 1,000 miles in two weeks. He was driving the car for commuting, going to play golf.” The factory knew this because it has remote connectivity with the car in the event the driver needs assistance, Dellacha says.
Cummings says the clientele for superluxury and hypercars is evolving. There’s old money from well-established Canadian families, but there are also wealthy immigrants. “It’s also becoming younger, whether being passed on through family wealth, or because they’ve created new technologies [such as] bitcoin,” he says.
Whatever the source of their wealth, Dellacha says potential buyers of the Battista are a small family unto themselves – a family whose members “either are supercar fanatics, or pure collectors, and then you have a few of them who have already embraced the new mobility and they want just to have the best electric car ever.”
The Battista might not fit the definition of stealth wealth, but who cares? It’s a car that deserves to be flaunted.