Pininfarina Teorema Is a Bullet-Shaped, Luxurious Take on the Autonomous Future


Teorema sits at the intersection of what we understand today by “car” and the lounge on wheels of tomorrow, which many designers and industry players imagine will come to replace the car as Level 5 autonomy is achieved. It can still be driven, so purists who are already decrying the loss of the driving experience can rest assured: driving won’t be entirely abolished, just changed drastically. But more on that later.

Designed using Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality technologies by the teams in Cambiano (Italy) and Shanghai (China), Teorema is more than just a car. It’s also more than just a possible glimpse into the future.

It wants to be a theoretical reclaiming of the automotive space and an improved experience of it. It “wants to give people back the pleasure of living the car, driving and traveling, without the frustrations of increased congestion and other compromises, all while integrating AI, 5G and the latest technology to drive passengers towards new incredible experiences along the journey,” as Kevin Rice, Chief Creative Officer at Pininfarina explains.

Teorema sits on a skateboard platform, which means it has a flat, open floor. The chassis by Benteler is SUV-like long at 5,400 mm (212.6 inches), but exceptionally short, with a height of just 1,400 mm (55,1 inches). Such height might get you thinking of a cramped cabin with difficult access, but Pininfarina uses the canopy to open it up. The roof raises and slides forward, so guests can enter the cabin through the back: there are no doors. Pininfarina even goes as far as to compare access to it to that of walking into a room. The point is that you don’t have to bend or mind your head: the Teorema offers standing height and easy access.

There is a unique combo of 2+2+1 seats inside, in a three-row configuration, and with plenty of room for guests to get their own “cocoon” if that’s what they desire. The photos don’t illustrate this too well, but Pininfarina says extra legroom and smart lighting should create bubbles of isolation within the cabin for guests not looking to socialize. Or who are in desperate need of a nap.

The seats are designed with Poltrona Frau and are meant for “maximum relaxation.” They can be used upright for sightseeing and chatting, or can recline all the way back, in which case they form two parallel cots for sleeping. With the car in full autonomous mode, the driver seat swivels to face the cabin, creating a cozy interior perfect for anything from a casual conference to the aforementioned lounge.

Speaking of driving modes, Teorema has three of them: Autonomy, Drive, and Rest. The first two are self-explanatory, with the mention that Drive isn’t exactly the experience you get at the wheel today. Since Pininfarina probably imagines not many would still want to be in control of the machine with full self-driving capabilities, driving is done with joysticks and buttons that pop up when needed, to avoid extra clutter in this sleek, futuristic space.

Teorema would use tech from Continental, specifically Smart Surfaces and Intelligent Glass. Each seat comes with its own set of buttons, which also pop up only when needed, offering control of light settings, glass tint, VR displays, and seat configuration.

In Rest mode, each seat would become an isolated pod-like space, with different lighting, or the four seats can be converted into “beds,” and occupants can change spots as they see fit. Like with the swivels on the floor, which supposedly guide guests to their seats (it’s not like it’s that big a space, after all!), Pininfarina places a lot of emphasis on custom lighting to enhance the experience.

The greenhouse is smart glass: it can be tinted to various degrees, according to guests’ preferences, or can be used to display basic trip information or details on points of interest, through the glass-integrated WayRay augmented reality system.

Teorema has full-body venting to cut drag and improve aero performance. It looks like a bullet, thanks to its very low profile and the dramatic Kamm tail, it’s sleek and it creates the impression of speed even in renders. Pininfarina doesn’t offer details about speed or range, because the focus with the project was clearly on offering a new take on what the autonomous future might look like.

In this sense, Teorema is a success. Pininfarina has no plans of bringing it into production, but as with other concepts, you can probably expect some of these design elements to trickle down to actual production cars.