Between Enjoyable and Mobility – AUTOMOBIL REVUE

Dallara has become an integral part of motor racing. The Italian company offers a wide range of racing series with its chassis: Formula 2, Formula 3 and Indycars, among others, driving Dallara cars. Founded 50 years ago by engineer Gian Paolo Dallara, the company has become a reference for composite materials, lightweight chassis and supreme aerodynamics. We caught up with Dallara CEO Andrea Pontremoli to talk to him about the future of the brand.

AUTOMOBIL REVUE: Let’s start with the Stradale, your first car on the road. Does it meet your expectations?

Andrea Pontremoli: Even better, it exceeded all of our expectations. This car embodies the dream of engineer Gian Paolo Dallara who, after designing cars for the finest brands – Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini – wanted to have his own car on the road. A car that fulfills its philosophy, entirely dedicated to driving pleasure. A vehicle whose function dictates form and is free from anything superfluous. Only performance and driving pleasure matter.

When did the development of the car begin?

We restarted the project seven times, but each time a customer canceled the order and we put the idea off. In 2015 Gian Paolo Dallara told me: “Andrea, you are the CEO of this company, and you make the decisions. I saw that you wanted to fulfill my dream, but it must be done in my life.” He reminded me that he was 78 years old. That’s why I promised him on behalf of the company: on his 80th birthday, November 16, 2016, he will test drive his car. I assigned about twenty engineers and five mechanics to the project, under the direction of Gian Paolo Dallara as technical director. After 18 months, he was able to test his car, and that was a very emotional moment for me. It was then that I understood what he meant by driving pleasure: lightness, performance, aerodynamics and especially the right compromises where relevant – knowing that a car is always the result of a compromise.

So the result corresponds to the task?

Not only that, but it exceeds all our expectations and that’s why we want to sell it only to true lovers. This may sound pretentious, but we choose which customers can buy it. We want to end up with those with a deep passion for the car.

Are you planning to expand the model range of road vehicles?

We developed EXP to build a real racing machine based on the Stradale and to some extent to rid the Stradale of the limitations of road traffic regulations. This takes it to a higher level. In terms of expanding the range with additional models, we are currently focusing more on Stradale production. We make one car per week. We promised our customers that there will be only 600 copies. To ensure this, each customer can specify his own chassis number. Number 600 has already been allocated and delivered.

Will there be an electric version of your supercar?

We’ve already made the electric Dallara Stradale to order from Bosch. The company supplied us with engines and torque vectoring. The battery is from Williams. Bosch uses this example to show that it’s possible to have fun behind the wheel of an electric car. With 750 hp over 1200 kg, it achieved the same times in the Mugello as the gasoline-powered Stradale with 400 hp and 855 kg. These are the two extremes. The future will lie somewhere in between.

However, everyone talks about electricity.

I think the future will not only be electric. This is a battle I am also fighting on a political level. In Italy, Prime Minister Mario Draghi was able to make the stance of technology neutrality heard after the European Union set a transition to pure electric operation by 2035. I understand that politics makes rules through CO2Neutrality is required, but it is up to the industry to provide appropriate technologies through research. I think there are other ways to achieve this other than e-navigation. I think of hybrids, which appear like mushrooms in motorsports. Dallara already makes Formula E cars and we’re seeing major automakers get involved in categories where hybrid powertrains are championed, such as Endurance and Formula 1. This is a clear indication that the world is moving in that direction.

So cars with internal combustion engines will never completely disappear?

I think we’re headed toward a major separation between mobility and driving pleasure. When it comes to getting around, it’s enough to get from A to B in the most environmentally friendly way possible, perhaps with a self-driving car. Owning your own car will no longer be necessary, only service is important. When it comes to fun driving, it is important to own the car and use it when you want to. Instead of going from A to B, you go from A to somewhere… I’ve seen this with my Dallara Stradale: Sometimes I start driving again 15 minutes after I park it. Then my wife asks me where I’m going, and I answer: “I don’t know, I’m going for a ride.” I haven’t felt this way since I sold my bike.

Will the number of vehicles decrease?

Yes I think so. Mobility services will develop mainly in cities. Today’s city centers are huge parking lots, and according to a study by the Polytechnic University of Milan, only ten percent of cars drive, while all other cars take up unnecessary space. It would be logical to rethink cities and build more tall ones. You can use an app to order a self-driving taxi and drive it to the city center. For trips out of town or for vacations, you have a car that meets your expectations and ideas. This is my vision.

Electrification essentially means increased weight for production vehicles. Do you think the demand for composite materials – of which Dallara is a reference – will increase due to the need to save weight?

We are already noticing the impact on our activities. We are now busier than ever, we even had to turn down orders from important clients. Our way of working is very precise, we do not develop motors or gears, but we are looking for the most effective way to achieve the set goals, depending on the power source. In the racing world, lap times are key, but fuel consumption on the road is key. However, our fundamentals remain the same: lightness and aerodynamics. A large company asked us to do a large-scale model study. Without touching the engine and only by adjusting the aerodynamics and weight, we reduced consumption by 30 percent. The cleanest energy is energy that is not being consumed.

Motorsports in Dallara’s DNA. In what direction do you think motor racing will develop in the coming years with electric planning?

After the revival of the 1960s and 1970s, motorsport is currently experiencing its second youth. Once again it becomes a laboratory for development and innovation. It is also a huge platform for marketing. These aspects have been somewhat lost in recent decades due to new regulations that have slowed innovation. Today, energy and environmental issues are back in the spotlight again. This is where the most efficient systems are developed. Just think that an F1 car’s engine has 50 percent efficiency, while in a production car it’s 38 percent.

So Delara will never be purely electric »?

No, Dallara won’t run on electricity: We’ve set up a control electronics department. Everything about vehicle wiring, management of electronic control units, telemetry, etc. are necessary skills through which information flows to drivers and engineers. This is necessary for the development of our products.

for someone

Andrea Pontremoli He has been CEO of Dallara since 2007. Prior to that, he worked for IBM IT for more than 20 years, most recently as Chairman of the Board of Directors of IBM Italy. Among others, Pontremoli was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Parma and the Order of Merit from the Italian Republic.

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