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Pininfarina H2 Speed concept revealed at 2016 Geneva motor show

Published: 01 March 2016

 Pininfarina’s futuristic fuel cell racer
 Running gear by electric specialists GreenGT
 On display at the 2016 Geneva motor show

It looks like a Le Mans car from the future, it’s powered by hydrogen and it has a top speed of 186mph: meet the Pininfarina H2 Speed.

This isn’t the first time Italian design temple Pininfarina has brought an arresting concept car to the Geneva motor show – but the H2 Speed is one of its most extreme yet.

It’s been created in a technical partnership with GreenGT, a Franco-Swiss specialist electric powertrain outfit (hence the Swiss and Italian flags on the bodywork).

GreenGT has spent some years developing a series of curious hydrogen hybrid racing car prototypes, and the Pininfarina H2 Speed uses a development of its tried and track-tested powertrain, clad with bodywork shaped partly by Pininfarina’s stylists and partly by the search for downforce.

The H2 Speed is described by Pininfarina as being ‘halfway between a racing prototype and a production supercar.’

What exactly is powering the Pininfarina H2 Speed?

A hydrogen fuel cell system dubbed ‘Full Hydrogen Power.’ It consists of two very powerful electric motors (which together develop the equivalent of 500bhp), a lightweight two-stack hydrogen fuel cell and a braking energy recuperation system.  

There’s no gearbox, clutch or diff; drive goes directly to the rear wheels, and is governed by torque vectoring software. There aren't any harmful emissions, locally at least, either – just water.

Pininfarina says the compressor system ‘gives the vehicle’s engine a very special tone,’ with ‘science fiction’ hissing sounds that are reputedly quite different from conventional electric cars.

What’s it made from?

Carbonfibre, predominantly. You can see part of the carbon chassis through the side panels, which have been hollowed out in the name of airflow. You can also see the two large hydrogen tanks at each side, partially faired in rather than incorporated fully into the body. Pininfarina says the tanks’ 6.1kg capacity can be refilled in only three minutes.

Two large radiators at the front of the channels cool the fuel cell block and the distinctive upside-down L-shaped wings at the front direct further airflow (as well as supporting the concept’s slim-line LED light strips. The car’s total weight is 1420kg, on empty tanks.  

Can the H2 Speed live up to its name?

In a word, yes. Pininfarina claims a top speed of 186mph and 0-62mph in 3.4sec.

It’s a concept of quite extreme proportions – 4700mm long, 1087mm high, and 2000mm wide – with a white ’n’ fluoro colour scheme inspired by a classic Pininfarina concept from the past, the 1969 Sigma Grand Prix (parked up with the H2 Speed in one of the pictures in this story’s gallery).

Like the Sigma Grand Prix, the H2 Speed concept’s purpose is to ‘explore the potential of racing technology’, in this case to further hydrogen performance development.

Read more of CAR’s 2016 Geneva motor show coverage here

Click here for CAR’s A-Z guide to the 2016 Geneva motor show

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ