TURIN - Italdesign and its partner Fata Group will supply assembly lines for production of a minivan and four-door sedan in China.
The vehicles will be designed, engineered and developed by Italdesign, which has begun styling the two vehicles.
Italdesign and Fata, one of Italy's biggest assembly-line constructors, have formed a group called Technology and Design Consortium. The consortium will supply the equipment for a new $500 million plant, to be built north of Beijing.
The plant will be in operation in 2000. Planned capacity is 150,000 units a year. China Automotive Co. Ltd. has asked for 100 percent local content from the start of production. However, both vehicles will be powered by a Mitsubishi 2.3-liter gasoline engine. They will have twin airbags, ABS and traction control. Sales will be restricted to China.
Italdesign expects to realize total sales of about L60 billion ($34 million) from the project.
Technology and Design Consortium signed a letter of understanding with China Automotive in June 1997 after a year of negotiations.
China Automotive is a subsidiary of state-owned Brilliance Holdings Ltd., which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is active in several fields, including biotechnology and highway and bridge construction.
Another Chinese firm is using Pininfarina Group to design and develop a new compact multi-purpose vehicle for China. It will be built by Hafei Motor Co. Hafei Managing Director Cui Xuewen said the vehicle is expected to come off the assembly line at Harbin in northwest China in late 1998.
Xuewen said the vehicle would be multi-functional, 'good both for families and companies,' and 'aimed at the Chinese, Asian and African markets.' Planned output is 50,000 units a year.
Styling work on the five-door, seven-seat minivan began in May 1996 at Pininfarina's headquarters in Turin. Insiders said the vehicle has a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine mounted under the front seats. The pedals are in front of the axle.
Insiders estimate that Pininfarina's contract with Hafei is worth about $10 million.
'We are not expecting spectacular profits from this contract,' said Pininfarina Chairman Sergio Pininfarina. 'But we consider this a starting point for a long-term relationship with Hafei, and another sign of the international approach of Pininfarina, which has clients all over the world.'
Pininfarina may derive a two-seat pickup from the minivan.