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The project


The Nido project was born in 2004 as an innovative concept to analyze the safety of small cars. Through it Pininfarina set out to completely rethink the methodology of car design. This concept was developed by intense collaboration between design and engineering, which are often two opposite poles, but which combined in this project to create an attractive, small, safe car. Focussing on and redefining the different approaches to a single objective, revealed innovative solutions where aesthetic and technical perspectives overlapped.

In 2010 the project was resumed for the realization of the first working prototype of the “Nido Development Programme”, a modular platform from which new types of hybrid and electric cars will evolve. The exterior design of the Nido EV reiterates and updates the lines and volumes that won the Nido of 2004 the prize as the Most Beautiful Car in the World in the Prototypes and concept cars category, the 2008 Compasso d’Oro and a place in the temple of modern art, the MoMA of New York. On the other hand, the interiors of the first Nido EV project are those of a technical prototype, with no attempt at stylistic research.



  • L’Automobile più Bella del Mondo per la categoria
  • Prototipi e concept car 2004
  • Compasso d’Oro 2008
  • Esposta al MoMA di New York



The way


The Nido EV is a small city car (slightly larger than a Smart). It seats 2 and has a permanent magneto rear engine. The “Nido Development Programme” envisages, moreover, the possibility to realize further versions with serial hybrid drivetrain;  an endothermic engine is positioned at the front of the vehicle and, used as a power generator, allows to further extend the range of the vehicle (Range Extender).  The position of the engine, combined with high modularity of the chassis, will make it possible to increase the interior space adding the rear seats (1 or 2) and increasing the volume of the luggage, while maintaining an optimum weight distribution. It has a range of 140 km (when the battery is fully charged) and a top speed of 120 km/h (limited electronically). The versions now in development require the use of lithium ion batteries, technology which, while maintaining the security and reliability of Ni-NaCl (mounted on the running prototype), allows to increase the power that can be delivered. With the solution of Li-Ion batteries the current performance of the prototype can therefore be increased, reaching, for example, an acceleration 0-60 km / h in 4.4 seconds. The prototype is also fitted with “green” tyres developed by Pirelli paying particular attention to safety, environmental sustainability and money saving. On the vehicle a climate control device, specific for electric cars, will be installed, equipped with an electronic control unit which interfaces with the car junction box to optimize the comfort and energy consumption. The Programme will also search for solutions and components with a lower weight and high mechanical/electrical efficiency, as well as energy regeneration while braking.

When we examine the issue of safety, the Nido project of 2004 considered not to consider only the effects of a collision on a single vehicle. The problems of compatibility between vehicles with small and high masses are becoming fundamental in automotive safety engineering. They are even more significant if we consider developments on today’s cars, which are tending to become larger and heavier. In this context, the safety of a small, light car becomes particularly significant and crucial. For this reason, the Nido project concentrated on analysing and prototyping new solutions that involve both the structure and the design of a small two-seater car, with the objective of increasing safety levels on the basis not of its weight but of a new principle.


The Nido is composed of three main elements:

– a chassis, accounting for approximately two thirds the total vehicle weight, which supports all the mechanical components, like the front and rear suspension, the engine, etc. This chassis has a front crumple zone and a rigid safety cell around the occupants;

– a shell for the occupants, which accounts for approximately one third of the vehicle weight. It is a sled that slides horizontally along a central runner within the rigid cell;

– in normal conditions the rigid cell and the sled are connected by the third element, which consists of two absorbers that dissipate the energy with a level of rigidity achieved by the combination of three honeycomb blocks of different density.

The functioning of the rigid cell/honeycomb energy absorber/sled system was verified by building simplified virtual models and simulating different types of collision. The project concluded with the construction of two development models to verify the correspondence between the physical and the virtual models. A life size prototype was also built and an industrial feasibility study was conducted based on a target output of 20,000 units per year.

The Nido EV is a fully-fledged laboratory designed to explore the idea of a small electric city car and to develop a modular floorpan suitable for different bodyworks and different mechanical layouts. The body structure of this first prototype is a tubular steel frame, but the final version will be an aluminium space frame. The structure was designed to adapt to four different, completely electric or hybrid vehicles: 2-seater, 2+1, pick-up and light van.


  • Roominess: City Car 3 seats
  • Electric drive: Rear
  • Measurements (Length/Width/Height): 2950/1620/1507mm
  • Acceleration 0-60 km: 4,4 sec
  • Top speed (limited electronically): 120 km/h
  • Range fully charged: 140 km
  • Weight empty (ready for road): 840 kg
  • Engine: Permanent magneto synchronous
  • Max power output: 60 kW
  • Peak torque to wheels: 90 Nm
  • Drive batteries: Li-Ion batteries
  • Rated voltage: 350 V
  • Rated capacity: 22 kWh
  • Charge time: 8 hours
  • Weight: 150 kg

The idea


During the energy crisis in the 1970s, the industry concentrated on aerodynamics and alternative sources of energy to cut petrol consumption: Pininfarina responded by developing the CNR Energetica 1 prototype, an ideal aerodynamic body shape. The Ecos, the first electric car developed by Pininfarina, which led the field by analysing an issue that the motor industry has only recently begun to study. In the 1980s, Pininfarina research into the application of light materials resulted in the development of the Audi Quartz and Lancia Hit prototypes, which explored the use of new, lighter materials. The 1990s witnessed heightened awareness of environmental problems, more research in the field of recyclable materials, and a more efficient concept of “packaging”. Pininfarina offered new solutions with the Ethos macro-project, 3 cars with an aluminium chassis, recyclable resin bodywork, and an innovative low emissions combustion engine; and in 1995, it presented the Ethos 3EV, another zero emissions vehicle. More recently Pininfarina has focused its research on hybrid vehicles with the Eta Beta and Metrocubo projects, two small cars with modular passenger compartments that address the problems of driving in town and on medium hauls. With the 2004 Nido, Pininfarina returned to the issue of safety.

Today, faced with a new global crisis, and the need to curb emissions and consumption, the opportunities offered by zero emissions urban mobility have grown significantly: the world is increasingly aware of the environment and Pininfarina was the first industrial concern in Italy and one of the first in Europe to propose a 100% electric concept car, the BlueCar, developed jointly with the Bolloré company. Now that all the large carmakers are viewing the electric car as an opportunity, Pininfarina takes another step forward, promoting a philosophy that incorporates the choice of individual and collective electric transport in the context of a new lifestyle that everyone should adopt to encourage energy saving and to protect the planet. This is why sustainable mobility has become one of the pillars underpinning the group’s activities. And it is also why it is now launching the new Nido EV project in parallel with the Blue Car.


The Nido EV is the fruit of a pioneering, far-sighted strategy adopted by Pininfarina three years ago, to focus on sustainable mobility, in various forms: not only by introducing hybrid or electric drivelines, but also by research to reduce consumption and emissions “from wheel to wheel”, and by the use of lighter, recyclable alternative materials, active and passive safety and IT systems which must open the door to the sustainable use of means of transport with intelligent traffic management.


Pininfarina's way to Automotive

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