Pininfarina has put its name on objects that feature throughout your day. You could listen to music on your Pinfarina-designed headphones on your Pininfarina-designed boat while you grab a coffee from your Pininfarina-designed coffee machine, then check the time on your Pinfarina-designed watch before heading off through the marina on your Pinfarina-designed bicycle to your apartment in the Pinfarina-designed building. And were you to own a hockey rink or perhaps even a hockey team, you could watch your Zamboni driver prepare the ice on a Pinfarina-designed ice resurfacer. That’s the official appliance name for the machine that, like Kleenex and Photoshop, is actually a specific brand but now represents an industry. Perhaps the most alluring example of its kind debuted recently at the FSB show in Cologne, Germany, the Zamboni ZX5.
Here’s the four-sentence history of the company: Utah-born Frank Zamboni went from farming to the auto repair business to the electrical service business to the ice business, eventually opening a plant making ice blocks for refrigeration in the age before electric refrigerators. Upon realizing refrigerators were soon going to store his lunch and eat it, he opened a 20,000-square-foot skating rink in California. Upon realizing he needed an efficient and practical way to keep that enormous surface skateable for patrons, he spent five years developing a machine to groom a smooth surface. We know the result.
This sleek gal is the first Zamboni to come from an outside design firm, Pininfarina providing a slight historical connection to the Austro-Italian origins of the Zamboni clan. The ZX5 will be available first with a battery-electric powertrain housing two 27-horsepower e-motors. Zamboni claims the lithium-ion pack will last long enough to surface a 20,000-sq-ft rink, leaving plenty of juice to do the job on a 17,000-sq-ft NHL-sized rink. A gas-powered version is on the way later.
The collaboration did more than merely add a famous name, the ZX5 designed to be fitted with optional appliances that are often separate from the machine, like an edger and a quick-change blade system. On top of that, increased automation baked in means processes like the towel lift and the flood water control save time and help create more consistent resurfacing among different drivers.
You might be as surprised as we were to find out how often climate-friendly electric ice resurfacers have been in the news. We posted in 2009 about how the city of Toronto was giving up Zambonis for the battery-electric IceCat. In 2020, an old Zamboni emitted enough carbon monoxide inside a hockey rink in New York that CO2 alarms went off and the players and spectators evacuated. Earlier this year, Canadian outlet CBC wrote a piece on how electric Zambonis are the new wave. Again.
With the ZX5, doing the right thing while being smooth as ice never looked so good.