TURIN – Volkswagen AG will buy a controlling stake in Italy's largest design and engineering firm, Italdesign Giugiaro S.p.A., two industry sources confirmed to Automotive News Europe.
One of the sources said that an announcement could come as early as next week. Italdesign and VW representatives declined to comment.
The move is consistent with VW's plan to be the world's largest automaker by 2018 with sales of 10 million vehicles a year. To reach that goal, VW's 10-brand group, including Porsche, will need more designers and engineers. In 2010 alone, VW group plans to add 60 models, including upgrades.
Italdesign, co-founded by Giorgetto Giugiaro in 1968, currently has 975 employees and 800 computer aided design workstations. Most of the workers and equipment are based at the company's headquarters in Moncalieri, 15km south of Turin.
Italdesign is a private company entirely owned by Giorgetto Giugiaro, 71, who serves as chairman, and his son Fabrizio, 45, who heads the design and model division.
Both executives are expected to continue working at the company following the VW takeover.
Italdesign does not disclose its financial results. The most recent data available shows that in 2008 the company increased its revenues 6.2 percent to 136 million euros ($166 million) and reported an operating breakeven.
Engineering work stays confidential
Recent models designed by Italdesign include the Alfa Romeo 159 sedan and station wagon, Brera coupe; Fiat Grande Punto and Idea; Suzuki SX4 and its Fiat Sedici sister model.
Italdesign's design work is often made public by its automaker clients, but its engineering work typically remains confidential.
In the past five years, the only engineering task that Italdesign was allowed to take public credit for was engineering the model range of BMW's second-generation Mini -- a hatchback, convertible and the Clubman station wagon.
Previous engineering works include the Citroen C3 Pluriel small convertible car and variants of the past-generation Renault Megane compact.
For VW, Italdesign styled the first-generation Golf, Audi 80, VW Passat and Scirocco; the entire family of VW's W12 sports car concepts, plus several Seat models and concept models for the rebirth of the Bugatti brand under VW.