Last year, design legend Giorgetto Giugiaro sold just over 90 percent of Italdesign Giugiaro, Italy's biggest car styling and engineering company, to Volkswagen Group. Since then, Giugiaro has been learning how to work within a giant global group. Giugiaro says he does not regret giving up his independence to VW. He spoke with Automotive News Europe Chief Correspondent Luca Ciferri.
So far, so good
Design legend Giorgetto Giugiaro talks about life as part of VW
Meet the boss
Giorgetto Giugiaro, 73, founded Italdesign Giugiaro in 1968 after he had worked for Fiat from the age of 17 and later for Bertone and Ghia, two famous Turin coachbuilders. Giugiaro's new company pioneered a new formula: providing design, engineering, prototyping and testing services to carmakers without also performing manufacturing. Giugiaro's current challenge is to provide VW with innovative styling proposals to aid the automaker's quest to become the world's largest automaker.
So far, so good. I cannot be called a rookie in the auto industry – I began working 56 years ago and I penned my first production car, the Gordon Keeble GT back in 1960, but I am still learning how the VW Group operates globally.
VW was never a stranger to us and we were never a stranger to VW, since we worked together for so many years. Nevertheless, now I am able to observe from the inside VW's level of discipline, long-term programming and 360-degree research that still goes beyond my imagination. And I have seen many automakers from the inside in my long career. What we are trying to learn, step by step, is how to align the speed of our small vessel with the cruising speed of such a global group.
There were no big changes in how we work, just a different setting. In the past, we were given a clean sheet of paper and, except for the engine, we were designing and engineering complete vehicles for the world's automakers. Within VW, we are part of a powerful organization where we are proud to add the value of our experience in design and engineering to the vast work already carried over by the parent company.
On the contrary, VW and its brands have always so many projects running that every good idea is welcome. And you know we have those good ideas! The big difference is that we need to adjust to a more global picture, and to the discipline and precise timing of those projects. But I have to admit that this rigorous discipline is one of the key elements of VW group global success.
I decided to sell with my son Fabrizio because I am the past here while he is the future. Italdesign had won some good contracts, so our short term future was safe. Nevertheless, becoming part of a leading corporation like VW, was a clear long-term benefit for the company and its 900 employees and their families. Personally, I like VW as a company and I have had a very good personal relationship with (VW Chairman) Ferdinand Piech ever since he came to Italdesign for a summer internship in 1972. VW people always respected me, my work and my company more than any other of the several dozen companies I have worked for.
I am convinced – and luckily I am also told! – that my creativity is still alive and kicking. Maximize the interior space while minimizing the vehicle size had been a constant in my career. Go and Tex both extend this research to new highs. Many concept cars which are exhibited at auto shows are not industrially feasible by far. Tex and Go could enter production as they were unveiled in Geneva. The only modification needed would be to make the front of the Go 60mm longer to install an internal combustion powertrain.
A compact minivan that, thanks to a clever packaging, offers more roominess than a large SUV despite being shorter than a compact hatchback. In addition, it has an unrivaled easy access for passengers.
I proudly defend the rights not only of older people, but also of a broader audience – also including youngsters – who refuse to believe that a nice vehicle has to be a low-slung and uncomfortable car. The Go is a perfect vehicle for an clientele that is more mature in their approach to personal transport.
It is roomier than a compact coupe. It is 3990mm long so it's shorter than a subcompact hatchback. Passengers can easily get into and out of the rear seats, not an easy task in many existing coupes, even those that are much bigger than the Tex.
VW told me it received very good feedback for both vehicles, but at the moment I am not aware of any taken decision.
The Golf that won a lot of praise wasn't exactly the one I had designed first in 1970 and VW approved for production in August 1971. Late in the project's development, VW decided to also sell the car in the U.S. and federal standards meant the car's front-end had to be lengthened by 70mm. We worked around the clock to apply this modification without delaying the European launch. The Golf debuted in 1974 at the Geneva show. Retrospectively, I would say the final result was quite good despite this last-minute change.