With the Nido project, 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. The Nido thus confirms Pininfarina’s ability to reconcile the motorist’s desires with the technical feasibility necessary to develop a project. The company is therefore able not only to innovate today, but to provide solutions for a better tomorrow. Pininfarina has patented the innovative safety solutions embodied in the Nido.

When we examine the issue of safety it is important 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.

Length 2890 mm

Width 1674 mm

Height 1534 mm

Maximum forward movement of sled 350 mm

Maximum backward movement of sled 120 mm

Wheelbase 2068 mm

Front track 1363 mm

Rear track 1457 mm

Front tyres 175/45 16²

Rear tyres 205/40 16²

Bodywork composite, stainless steel chassis

Drive rear wheels, rear engine

Transmission automatic

Imagining and anticipating requirements

The Nido is born from Pininfarina’s tradition of continuous capital spending on research and development programmes to quickly and methodically tackle problems as they arise in the motor industry. For example, 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, and the Ecos electric car. In the 1980s, research focused on the construction of a number of prototypes using new, lighter, metallic and composite materials. The 1990s witnessed heightened awareness of environmental problems, and more research in the field of recyclable materials and ergonomics. Pininfarina recently turned its attention to small electric and hybrid vehicles with modular passenger compartments, which address the problem of town traffic and medium hauls. Nido has focused on another issue that is critical for the motor industry, that of safety.

During the Nido project a strong collaborative relationship grew up between the various company functions involved, and it made full use of Pininfarina’s experience in virtual product development, carrying out computer simulation for static and dynamic analyses, structural and biomechanical crash testing, and acoustic and vibration analysis. A number of external partners were also involved in the project: the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research, the Inox Centre, CSI, Dow and PI Technology. 


Pininfarina Style and Engineering

Cambiano (Turin)