JAY RAMEY

Pininfarina preps H500 concept as Tesla fighter

The H500 features a fastback profile and a generous rear passenger compartment. The most unique aspect of this fairly conservative shape: fins on the front fenders that flow into the windowsills.
Jay Ramey is an associate editor with Autoweek, an affiliate of Automotive News.

Pininfarina is giving the world an early peek at a sedan concept set for reveal this month at the Beijing auto show, one of two concepts that the design house will showcase there. The Mahindra-owned consultancy has joined with Hybrid Kinetic Group of Hong Kong with the goal of developing "clean energy vehicles," and if the H500 sedan concept looks like a hopeful Tesla competitor that's because it is.

This is Pininfarina's fourth collaboration with Hybrid Kinetic Group, or HK: Pininfarina showed the H600 sedan at the 2017 Geneva motor show, as well as two SUV concepts at the 2017 Shanghai motor show. Pininfarina's latest concept in this line, the HK GT, was unveiled last month at the Geneva motor show. The HK GT promised a range of 621 miles, courtesy of a relatively small 20-kilowatt-hour battery and a turbine generator working as a range extender, along with a 2.9-second launch time from a standstill to 62 mph.

The H500 features a fastback profile and a generous rear passenger compartment. The most unique aspect of this fairly conservative shape: fins on the front fenders that flow into the windowsills. The relatively short tail, meanwhile, gives it a profile that may remind some of the recent Citroen C6 sedan.

 

The design house is sharing few powertrain details, except that the concept will again have a range extender. The exterior and interior of this sedan concept appear very sober and realistic, suggesting it's not far from a production appearance.

Luxury sedans are still a massive segment in China, perhaps like nowhere else in the world, so it's no surprise that a sedan is part of a planned lineup. Even though the H500 concept is nominally "designed for dynamic lifestyle seekers," it's really the Tesla Model S luxury commuter buyers that the concept has its sights on, mixing vaguely Italian styling and a range-extended hybrid powertrain. At a time when sedan sales are experiencing a downturn, the segment is still strong in China where "new energy" hybrids and electrics will soon be even more in demand than they already are because of government mandates.

 

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