For the second straight year, Geneva auto show organizers fined Italdesign-Giugiaro for not having its main concept car ready before press day on Tuesday, February 27.
It was just another day in a busy year for the Italian firm.
Italdesign showed the Aston Martin-based Twenty Twenty concept, right, and a copy of the Touareg off-roader it built for fashion photographer Helmut Newton.
But behind the commotion, it announced an acquisition, a joint venture and a strategic alliance. All are aimed at turning the design house into a full-service coachbuilder.
l Italdesign acquired 3 E - European Engineering Enterprise, based in Beinasco, near Turin. It is a 40-person engineering studio that specializes in carbon fiber technologies.
l The joint venture is designed to reinforce growth in France, which provided 20 percent of Italdesign revenue last year. Italdesign will own 70 percent of Italdesign-Gallizio (IDG), which will be 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. Gallizio will direct an initial team of 20 employees, with plans to grow to 40.
l 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. The strategic alliance covers all of Europe but is aimed mainly at the French market. It is similar to an agreement Italdesign signed four years ago with FATA for markets in the Far East.
The three deals will add to Italdesign's core styling, engineering and development capacities. They also allow Italdesign to offer carmakers complete 'turnkey' projects, including stamping and welding assembling lines.
The Italdesign-FATA agreement has already been awarded a luxury sedan project by a Chinese maker.
Italdesign's emphasis on broader European capability may be paying dividends. Production revenue grew 5 percent last year to e134.3 million.
'This upward trend is the result of [more] business generated in Europe, up 56 percent in 1999, despite the difficulties in the automobile market,' said Managing Director Dario Trucco. 'We had to face the crisis overshadowing the South Korean makers.'
Referring to the Fiat-GM industrial alliance, Trucco said: 'Although displaying interesting opportunities for the future, [it] has narrowed business activities in the short term.'
Italdesign's operating profit last year was down slightly at e34.4 million against e35.2 million in 1999. Net income before income taxes was up a little at e38.7 million compared with e38.5 million the year before.