2019 Pininfarina H2 Speed
A hydrogen-powered race car from Italy’s legendary design houseby Jonathan Lopez, on
Pininfarina has been around for quite a while now, first spreading roots in Torino way back in 1930. Best known for its design work for major automakers like Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, and Maserati, among others, Pininfarina is more old-school cool than it is next-gen tech. However, that association looks like it’s getting a shakeup with the release of the H2 Speed, a production-ready hydrogen-powered race car destined to blitz race tracks around the world, leaving nothing but water vapor from the exhaust tips.
Continue reading to learn more about the Pininfarina H2 Speed.
2019 Pininfarina H2 Speed
Horsepower @ RPM:653
0-60 time:3.4 sec.
Top Speed:186 mph
Pininfarina H2 Speed Exterior
- Based on a concept introduced in 2016
- Functional, aerodynamic exterior design
- Looks great as well
- Intakes to cool the powertrain components
- LED lighting
- Prominent dorsal fin
- Inspired by Le Mans prototypes
- Exterior dimensions reworked to accommodate powertrain
- Blue and red exterior colors
The current H2 Speed is based on a concept that debuted in 2016 at the Geneva International Motor Show.
Pininfarina didn’t simply wake up one day and decide to build itself an electric-hydrogen racing car. The current H2 Speed is actually based on a concept that debuted in 2016 at the Geneva International Motor Show, which took home top honors such as the 2016 Concept Car of the Year Award, as well as Best Concept at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.
Now, the H2 Speed is headed to full-production status, with the finalized version debuting two years after the concept, once again at the Geneva International Motor Show.
Guess the concept went well.
Interestingly, the production version is quite similar in its aesthetic compared to the concept. Pininfarina contends that functionality is the name of the game here, rather than eye-catching beauty, claiming the H2 was “sculpted by aerodynamics.”
The nose is low and wide, rising in a vee shape towards flared-out fenders. A set of large intakes up front are used to force-feed the radiators, which are mounted laterally and provide cooling to the fuel cell block. Those upper L-shaped aero supports you see outlining the top portions of the intakes are also used for the lighting systems, with LED strips projecting forward illumination.
The sideview reveals a prominent lateral fin that leads to a massive spoiler, keeping the rear planted.
Viewed from the side, the roofline gets a dramatic rise and fall, with drivers sitting forward on the chassis. The fender flares terminate in deep cuts just below the door openings, while the rear is low and flat along the fenders. The sideview also reveals a prominent aero lateral fin that leads to a massive spoiler, which combine to keep the rear as planted as possible at speed.
The tail is surprisingly square, and gets accentuated by a large diffuser element, plus a mesh insert for the extra-large rear-facing vent.
When viewed from above, the car uses triangular design structures front and back, pinching in the middle while expanding outwards towards the tail and nose to accommodate the ultra-wide track. There’s also a set of visible suspension arms seen through the side intakes.
In the transition to full production form, the H2 Speed’s exterior dimension were modified slightly. The wheelbase is now longer, while the overall width was made more narrow to fit the racing tire’s track width. The car was also made a bit taller to accommodate the roll cage and offer the driver improved forward visibility.
There’s also larger intakes in the side panels that provide fresh air to the compressors, which are mounted as part of the hydrogen cylinder cover.
The bodywork was changed to include new lateral intakes connecting the rear engine lid, which are also divided vertically and get a few new colors to add accents. These intakes are used to cool both the electric motors and the rear brakes. There’s also larger intakes in the side panels that provide fresh air to the compressors, which are mounted as part of the hydrogen cylinder cover.
A relatively small intake can be seen on the roof just ahead of the lateral fin. This is use to help cool the engine bay, and looks similar to what Pininfarina offered in the 2016 concept machine. Meanwhile, that fin and spoiler combo was changed a bit from the 2016 concept to offer greater adjustability.
Finally, Pininfarina updated the livery from what we saw on the show car, now including blue body panels and red striping, which is yet another link to Pininfarina’s past.
Pininfarina H2 Speed exterior dimensions
|Overall Length||4,730 mm (186.2 inches)|
|Overall Height||1,113 mm (43.8 inches)|
|Overall Width||1,956 mm (77 inches)|
|Wheelbase||2,968 mm (116.9 inches)|
|Front Overhang||987 mm (38.9 inches)|
|Rear Overhang||775 mm (30.5 inches)|
Pininfarina H2 Speed Interior
- Racing-spec interior, steering wheel, and seats
- Gull wing doors keep the side pods intact
- Alcantara, leather, and exposed carbon throughout
- Sabelt seats uses lightweight carbon design
- F1-style six-point harnesses
Climb into the cabin, and you’ll be met with a full race-spec interior, with just two seats for a pilot and co-pilot.
To get in and out of the Pininfarina H2 Speed, drivers and passengers must operate a set of gull wing doors, which open upwards in order to keep those prominent flat-black side pods intact.
Climb into the cabin, and you’ll be met with a full race-spec interior, with a maximum of one driver and one passenger accommodated. Pilots get to grips with a racing-spec steering wheel, while exposed carbon fiber sections keep it all business.
“The only aesthetic element is the design of the dashboard, which is divided into three elements: the central one houses the instrumentation on board and is connected to two “ears” saddled on the door panels that integrate the handles,” Pininfarina explains.
The dash is wrapped in a black Alcantara material and comes complete with red contrast stitching, a color combo meant to mimic the exterior livery design.
Meanwhile, the seats are a special design from Sabelt. Sabelt is known for its involvement in various motorsport series, and the company brings the good stuff when it comes to the H2 Speed, including two ultra-lightweight monocoque seats with visible carbon elements. Buyers can get theirs in a multitude of different sizes and cushion densities, each of which gets those requisite lateral bolsters to help handle the impressive performance potential of this machine. Upholstery options like leather and Alcantara are both on the table.
The racing harnesses are also from Sabelt, and utilize the same design as those found in modern Formula 1 cars. That include six-point restraints that comply with modern homologation standards, plus CNC-machined aluminum buckles.
Pininfarina H2 Speed Drivetrain
- Based on a Le Mans prototype platform
- Carbon fiber monocoque chassis and steel frame
- Hydrogen fuel cell tech developed by GreenGT
- 250-kW capacity fuel cell
- 2.4 kWh of brake energy reclamation
- 653 horsepower at 13,000 rpm
- Four electric motors, direct drive
- 0 to 62 mph in 3.4 seconds
- Quarter mile in roughly 11 seconds
- Top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph)
- Full refuel in 3 minutes
- Weighs 3,131 pounds
- Suspension uses wishbones plus push rods front to back
- Michelin racing tires
Pininfarina sourced its inspiration from some of the fastest machines on the planet - LMP racers.
Under all that smooth, streamlined bodywork, Pininfarina sourced its inspiration for the H2 from some of the fastest four-wheeled machines on the planet - specifically, the Le Mans Prototype racers that annually slingshot their way around the Circuit de la Sarthe.
That means this thing is rocking a genuine LMP carbon fiber monocoque chassis with a steel frame, which basically makes it just a few steps away from an LMP2 racing machine. However, the H2 Speed’s unique mechanicals meant Pininfarina needed to heavily modify it to stuff in all that hydrogen fuel cell technology stuff.
Speaking of which, while Pininfarina certainly knows what it’s doing when it comes to penning a gorgeous exterior design, it’s not exactly the last word when it comes to hydrogen fuel cell tech. As such, the company went to GreenGT for the go components. Described as a Franco-Swiss company founded in 2008 that specializes in “clean and sustainable propulsion systems,” the spec sheet on this thing speaks for itself.
Providing the motivation is no less than four synchronous electric motors with permanent magnet functionality. Providing the electricity is a single fuel cell rated at a 250-kW capacity, while the onboard brake energy reclamation is rated at 2.4 kWh.
All told, the H2 Speed doles out as much as 653 horsepower at 13,000 rpm, all with zero emissions out the tailpipe, save a little water vapor that is. The machine also uses no gear changes, instead opting for a direct drive at the rear wheels with a 1:6.3 ratio.
The H2 Speed makes as much as 653 horsepower, creating nothing but water vapor in the process.
Properly motivated, the Pininfarina H2 Speed can sprint from 0 to 62 mph in 3.4 seconds. It’ll also cover 400 meters (1,312 feet, or a little less than a quarter mile) from a dig in 11 seconds, and achieve a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph).
“H2 Speed eliminates air pollution and the compressor gives the vehicle’s engine a very special tone, completely different to that of conventional electric cars - sounds and hisses that evokes science fiction,” says Pininfarina.
Providing the H2 is a set of hydrogen fuel tanks with 700-bar storage technology. The sizable tanks will also top off with hydrogen fuel in about 3 minutes, severely undercutting traditional all-electric vehicle charge times.
The large hydrogen fuel tanks are mounted on either side of the vehicle in a faired fashion, rather than being incorporated into the body. This helps to define the shape of the vehicle, while also arranging the weight distribution in a more optimal way.
The curb weight is rated at 1,420 kg (3,131 pounds), while a full tank of hydrogen adds an extra 8.6 kg (19 pounds). Weight distribution is biased towards the tail, with 41 percent of the heft in front and 59 percent in the rear.
To help manage the machine around corners, there’s an onboard torque vectoring system, which was also developed by GreenGT. The suspension system uses wishbones plus push rods in front and in the rear, while wheel sizing is measured at 18 inches in diameter at both ends. The wheel width comes to 13 inches in the rear and 12 inches in front, which is a lot of rubber to help keep it planted at speed. Hauling it down is a set of carbon ceramic brakes, plus the previously mentioned regenerative braking system.
Finally, Pininfarina and GreenGT teamed up with Michelin for the tire spec, throwing on the Pilot Sport GT 59M compound for dry tracks and the Pilot Sport GT P2L compound for racing in the wet.
Pininfarina H2 Speed Prices
Each example will cost around $2.5 million a pop.
As is tradition for Pininfarina, the H2 Speed will be extremely limited, with just 12 planned for production.
According to the brand, the ideal buyers are “speed and performance loving gentleman drivers who also respect the environment and are attracted at the same time by the exclusivity typical of a Pininfarina designed vehicle.”
Of course, this brutal track tool won’t be road legal, but Pininfarina does say that “future owners of the H2 Speed will have the opportunity to enjoy their cars with its unique handling and powertrain characteristics in selected track days around the world.” That probably means that what you’re really buying is the privilege to drive the cars where and when Pininfarina chooses, which is kind of lame, if we’re honest.
Still, Pininfarina says each example will be customized “to the requests of each individual client, allowing them to experience the excitement of driving a real racing car on the track.”
We’ll translate again - each of these machines will be ridiculously expensive, and while Pininfarina didn’t provide us with an exact number, expect it to be in the “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”
We hear somewhere around $2.5 million a pop.
Pininfarina H2 Speed Competition
When it comes to alternative fuel racing machines, the Drive eO PP03 is one of the best. Known for crushing the competition back in 2015 at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with Rhys Millen at the wheel, the Drive eO PP03 creates a very impressive 1,367 horsepower and 1,593 pound-feet of torque, which was more than enough to outpace the traditional internal combustion competition at America’s Mountain, effectively becoming the first all-electric winner at the event. While these days the ICE competition is making its comeback, this roofless speedmaker proves that electrons are the way forward.
Read our full review on the 2015 Drive eO PP03.
While the H2 Speed is certainly an important step in bringing hydrogen power to the race track, it won’t be the last.
While the H2 Speed is certainly an important step in bringing hydrogen power to the race track, it won’t be the last. We expect others to join in on the fun, including major automakers like BMW. However, it won’t be a smooth, straight shot to see it introduced to the mainstream in any meaningful way.
“The technology presented by GreenGT is the substantial outcome of a two-year development and testing program that has embodied the form of the H2 Speed concept,” Pininfarina explains.
So while the basics of going fast remain the same (lightweight chassis, plenty of torsional rigidity, oodles of tire in the corners, plenty of wing on top), adapting the formula to host a hydrogen powerplant will take some time. That said, the quick refill times and prodigious power outputs could very well put hydrogen technology on a collision course with all-electric racing powertrains, which makes the Pininfarina H2 Speed quite the landmark in terms of racing technology progression.
And it’s for all those reasons that we expect forward-thinking, well-heeled buyers to take a closer look. However, the real test will be on the track, and we look forward to seeing what sort of lap times these things can return with a proper driver behind the wheel. Only then will the technology see its true test.
Read our full review on the 2016 Pininfarina H2 Speed Concept.
Read more Geneva Motor Show news.
Read more Pininfarina news.