- Published in Vehicle Development.
Luxury sedans are one of the quietest, most comfortable ways of going from place to place ever invented. And it takes some of the most advanced engineering and technology there is to make this possible, a lot of which cascades down – sooner or later – into mainstream vehicles too.
So while few consumers are fortunate enough to own one, most of us benefit from them. The problem, of course, is that all that weight and all of those cylinders result in relatively high fuel consumption and CO2 emissions – well above 300g/km for most of the big gasoline models.
The diesel versions do much better, and there will be hybrid powertrains to choose from in a year or two. These options are helping to keep the species relevant but there are limitations and compromises here. There are still markets that do not favour the diesel engine no matter how many cylinders it has – the US and Japan for instance. And the first hybrids will be based on inline fours and have relatively small batteries. Electric-only range is limited, and maximum speeds are lower than those of the top models: this will matter to some.
Longer-term, neither of these powertrain configurations will satisfy the restrictions many large cities are likely to impose on the types of vehicle allowed into their centres – combustion engines will not be welcome. But it’s hard to imagine company directors going to the office in city cars or on the bus – so luxury sedans will have to change.
Design house Pininfarina’s vision of how is called the Cambiano. The concept shows how the firm thinks luxury can be sustainable, and also showcases Pininfarina’s competence in engineering and development – areas where it wants to grow the business.
At 5,040mm long, the Cambiano is about the same size as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or Maserati Quattroporte but is lighter thanks to its carbon-fibre and aluminium construction. Optimisation in the wind tunnel has cut the drag co-efficient to 0.28. Its range-extended electric powertrain gives the Cambiano sports car performance with CO2 emissions of just 45g/km.
“With this concept you can make, in 5m, one car which is zero emission for 200km, has a range of 800km, can run fast on German motorways and looks like a coupe but with the space of a sedan” says Andrea Maria Benedetto, Pininfarina’s vice-president of product and process development. “This is what electric mobility can give you.”