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TURIN – Stimulated by Europe’s new challenge for better fuel economy and reduced carbon-dioxide tailpipe emissions, Italian design innovation is back, as witnessed by several stunning “green” concept cars to be unveiled at the Geneva motor show this week.

In addition to Italdesign SpA’s Quaranta concept car is the fascinating Pininfarina SpA Sintesi, powered by four fuel cells, each providing energy to an electric motor that propels the vehicle.

The flexibility of the fuel-cell system provided the Pininfarina team, led by Design Dirctor Lowie Vermeersch, to reconsider the architecture of the car they set out to design.

This included applying what designers call a “liquid package” to emphasize how establishing the technical layout first has overturned traditional volumetric balances – such as improving weight distribution and lowering the centre of gravity, which are important elements for driving dynamics.

This has also led to a radically new body structure and architecture, and its wide ranging potential. For example, with motors driving the wheels, more cabin room is freed up for passenger comfort without detracting from the sporty aerodynamic styling of the car.

To the eye, the Sintesi is a sleek, contemporary sports car that stands out for its exotic proportion, which accommodates four adults in a very roomy cabin.

The vehicle’s four doors rotate upwards for easy access to a spectacular interior. The conventional bulky facia with dashboard has been replaced by a single transparent piece that integrates a monitor that provides all information and controls needed by driver or desired by the passengers.

Colorful light-emitting diodes become focal points, visualizing the car’s dialogue with its environment, the design team says.

“Our source of inspiration was man’s freedom over technology, a car in which technology gives creative freedom back to the designer and allows us to explore new forms and future scenarios,” Vermeersch says.

“But at the same time, we did not want everything to be limited to a flight of fantasy. We wanted our approach to be very concrete. Which is why we combined and tested our ideas with the innovative technologies provided by our partners in this project.”

The Sintesi fuel-cell concept reflects the new challenges of the times by anticipating the need and benefits of cars that are CO2 neutral, lighter and safer, Pinifarina says.

To this aim, the coachbuilder stresses its “Clancast” technology developed by Reicom GmbH that likens future cars to nerve cells, creating an intelligent, wireless communications network over which information about traffic, safety and security, audio and video, Internet and cross-media content can travel.

“This futuristic scenario, based on existing technology, opens the door to advanced active safety solutions, which in turn have made it possible to design the car with volumes that are not conditioned by today’s bulky passive-safety systems,” says Andrea Pininfarina, chairman and CEO, in a statement.

“In this respect, the Sintesi is not only a testament to the creativeness of our design team, but it reiterates our historical ability to anticipate stylistic and technological solutions that we will see in the cars of the future.”