Italdesign-Giugiaro S.p.A., the Italian design firm noted for creating forms for Fiat, Lexus and Maserati, also is happy to build vehicles.
To do so, the company is creating a network of subsidiaries and joint ventures.
Among the exhibitors at the SAE World Congress in Detroit last week was IDIADA Giugiaro GmbH, which has begun operations in Frankfurt on the expectation that automakers plan to use outside companies for more of their vehicle development projects.
The startup is a 50-50 joint venture between IDIADA Automotive Technology SA of Barcelona, Spain, and Italdesign-Giugiaro of Turin, Italy. IDIADA is a 30-year-old engineering services company and one of Europe's biggest independent automotive testing and proving ground suppliers.
Italdesign-Giugiaro has created outsourced vehicle designs since 1968. In the past decade, Giugiaro has been responsible for the design of the Lexus GS 300, Fiat Punto, Maserati 3200 GT and the entire fleet of Daewoo passenger vehicles.
Flurry of acquisitions
The joint venture is one of several Italdesign-Giugiaro has formed recently. At the Geneva auto show in late February, Italdesign-Giugiaro announced:
That it acquired 3 E - European Engineering Enterprise, in Beinasco, Italy, near Turin. It is a 40-person engineering studio that specializes in carbon fiber technologies.
A joint venture designed to reinforce growth in France, which provided 20 percent of Italdesign revenue last year. Italdesign will own 70 percent of Italdesign-Gallizio, which will set up near Paris in May. Arrigo Gallizio, a renowned Turinese model maker, will own the rest. IDG will build models and prototypes, mainly for French carmakers.
Italdesign also signed a strategic alliance with Magnetto Industrial Group of Turin. Magnetto fabricates steel, stamps sheet metal, produces wheels and assembles bodies-in-white. It operates in Italy, France, Poland and Latin America.
Similar to the moves announced at Geneva, IDIADA Giugiaro GmbH expects to provide production-ready vehicles to automakers.
The service would include styling, completed design, vehicle engineering, parts verification, crash testing and cost analysis, said Carles Grasas, one of two managing directors of the venture.
Grasas said the company began operating at the end of last year with two complete turnkey development projects in hand. But he said he is prevented by confidentiality agreements from identifying the two customers.
In the past, the companies have worked for the Volkswagen group, Fiat S.p.A., PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, Hyundai Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Daihatsu Motor Co. Ltd.
The Frankfurt office is for a small project management group, Grasas said. The real resources of the organization will remain at the two partners' separate offices, where the work will occur. Together, the companies employ about 1,400.
Grasas predicted the role of outside development suppliers will grow as automakers reduce their design and engineering resources.
One unknown is whether the firm might expand into production engineering - delivering the information on how an assembly plant would be tooled to produce the IDIADA Giugiaro prototype.
'This is the next step,' Grasas said. 'We as a company are not quite at this step.'