Indian auto firms keen to tap Pininfarina

by 13 Feb 2008


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This year’s Auto Expo threw up plenty of cues to automotive trends in India. Leading Italian design and style major Pininfarina is in talks with several Indian automobile majors to extend its entire gamut of services that includes styling, designing engineering and contract manufacturing.

Though it has already entered into an arrangement with International Cars and Motors Ltd (ICML) of the Sonalika Group to help it build a world car by 2010, Pininfarina is hopeful that Indian car firms would engage its manufacturing facilities in Italy to produce cars for Europe. “In China we have been involved in more than 10 vehicle projects. We are in talks with several companies in India for different projects involving various levels of involvement. Every project is a commitment from our side to make a vehicle a success. Each project is tailored differently for the customer. Every project could be a part of styling, part of engineering, part of process, and we have been doing this all over the world and we are doing that in India now,” said Michele Straniero, Overseas Sales Director, Pininfarina. In June 2007 Pininfarina had announced that it had signed an agreement to provide automotive design services to the Sonalika Group. “This agreement attests the great attention Pininfarina pays to the emerging Indian market in continuous growth,” stated Andrea Pininfarina in a press release.

Pact with NID

Early last year, the Italian design major had also signed a pact with the National Institute of Design (NID) in India for a three-year cooperation in automotive design activities through education programmes, internships for students, applied research and specific automotive joint design projects. “What ICML means by a world car is a car that meets world-class standards in terms of performance, emissions, safety and quality. Such a car can be sold all over the world. This is a car not only for the Indian market but for the global markets as well. The world car would be more than one model. Right now we are only into styling and design of the product. The deadline for the product is 2010,” said Straniero.

“As things progress, our inputs may also increase. We are in the style phase now. ICML is very young in this business but now they want to make a jump in world-class quality and I am happy that they chose Pininfarina. I feel they are serious in their commitment. They are new in the passenger car segment but very strong in their industrial background,” he said. Straniero said that Pininfarina currently produces the Volvo C70 at its Swedish plant while in Italy it produces the Mitsubishi Colt and the Ford Focus, among others. “These are cars produced in Italy and sold all over the world. We do contract manufacturing. We would be happy to produce in Europe a car branded and owned by an Indian company. First it makes sense for an Indian company to make a world car and then do contract manufacturing through us in Europe. Indian companies are so aggressive that they would get into contract manufacturing at some stage,’ he added.

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