In May 1996 Pininfarina became the first Italian company providing styling, engineering and development services in the automotive field to reach an agreement with Chinese industry. The initial fruit of that agreement was the Hafei Zhongyi minivan, to which Pininfarina contributed its know-how in terms of styling, design, production of masters and prototypes, and engineering. The Zhongyi, which made its debut in China in ‘99 at the Beijing Motor Show and was later exhibited on the Pininfarina stand at the Geneva Motor Show, was manufactured and marketed in China in a total of around 100,000 units a year.
On the wave of the great success of this minivan in the Chinese market, Hafei awarded Pininfarina a second contract, signed in early 2001, for the styling and design of a city car, the Lobo, on show at the June 2002 Beijing Motor Show.The technical-stylistic relationship and agreement with an independent company like Pininfarina has, on the one hand, left Hafei in the favourable position of being able to manufacture motor cars under its own brand name without necessarily having to link up with one of the major European, Japanese or American companies. And on the other, it has given Pininfarina the chance to create the image of the new brand, in complete freedom and without any constraints, given that there was no link with the themes of the past.
Alongside the Lobo, the HF Fantasy concept car will be also on show on the Hafei stand at the 2002 Beijing Motor Show. This concept, realised by Pininfarina, is not intended to be a production model but rather an interpretation from a purely stylistic standpoint of a 3-box sports saloon aimed at the upper segment of the market. The HF Fantasy also emphasises the vitality and ability to innovate of a company like Hafei Industrial Group Corporation and it also celebrates a cooperation that sees Pininfarina as the ideal supplier, not only of styling but also of engineering, and develops certain strong themes of the Lobo toachieve a family feeling.
This active presence in a market like China, with its immense potential for growth, is of extreme strategic importance for Pininfarina. With this in mind, significant is the fact that the cooperation with Hafei was reconfirmed in September 2001 with the signing of a third contract for styling, design, prototyping and testing of yet another upcoming new vehicle, the aim of which includes the possibility of exporting it from China. From this standpoint it is significant to note thatthe agreement provides for use of the European homologation standard.
DESIGN OF THE HF FANTASY
The basic idea was to create a 3-box, 4-seater saloon with a modern, sporting and aggressive look, which had the spirit and proportions of a coupe (while HF Fantasy is only 1,380 mm high it is fully 1,820 mm wide) and simultaneously the roominess and comfort of a top class car.
The lines are sleek and dynamic; the aesthetic features are in Pininfarina’s longstanding tradition in the field of styling: simplicity, elegance and perfect harmony and proportions between the volumes.All of this, while not abandoning a few transgressive touches and a certain concession to that futuristic approach which all prototypes at a show must have to make an impression on visitors and spark off dreams.In this sense it is worth highlighting the wide, transparent roof, the lighting units at the base of the struts on the waistline, the two large gulls’ wing doors to facilitate access to the rear seats, and the neon lights on the grille that act as parking lights and at the same time “illuminate” the most characteristic feature of the brand image.
Sportiness and innovation are well integrated in a model with an outstanding aesthetic personality, combining the passion for granturismo with the natural importance of a 3-box status symbol; the shapes are rounded but with prominent edges to give an overall impression of strength and character.
The guiding inspiration for the design of the interior was to create a style expressing a reserved sportiness and elegance, without forgetting to offer the four passengers that characteristic roominess and comfort of a top-of-the-range saloon.The design of the door panels and facia is extremely linear.The facia features a thin, light suspended element in translucent plastic that, like a sail, acts as an “eyelid” over the instruments in front of the driver and centrally, as an on-board control panel.These controls interact electronically with their respective devices by means of a by-wire system.
THE LOBO AND ITS FAMILY FEELING WITH THE HF FANTASY
When designing the HF Fantasy from a stylistic standpoint, certain strong themes that were developed on the Lobo city car – the production start-up is forecast for November 2002 and will run to some 100,000 units a year -were deliberately reinterpreted. The Lobo -that in Chinese means “treasure on the road” -is a 2-box, 5-door model (3,587 mm in length, width 1,564 mm, height 1,527 mm) with a 1000 cc engine and a platform expressly conceived by Pininfarina.
The triangular front and rear lighting units located at the base of the struts are found on both the Lobo and HF Fantasy and this unusual positioning characterises the design of the two cars.
Another element giving them a common bond is the design of the side-panel surfaces: linear, smooth, interrupted by prominent edges that give the cars a dynamic look, and the generously modelled wheel arches and sill, which instead transmit an all-round feeling of solidity and robustness.At the front, the family feelingbetween the two cars is the result of two strong lines that sculpt the bonnet and define the perimeter of the grille in the lower section, whereas in the upper section they join with the lighting units located at the base of the windscreen.