Volkswagen Group subsidiary Italdesign wants to expand its customer base after becoming too reliant on work from Europe's largest automaker. The top targets include a couple of well-known technology companies and a fast-growing electric-car maker.
"Frankly, I would go to them," new Italdesign CEO Joerg Astalosch said when asked what he would do if approached by Google or Apple. "It can be Tesla as well. And I think there will be many more startups, especially in America."
Astalosch, who joined the Italian design and engineering firm after four years as chief financial officer at VW-owned truckmaker MAN, wants to boost the company's U.S. business to balance revenue it gets from its two main markets, Europe and China.
To help increase brand awareness, Astalosch and his design boss, former Lamborghini stylist Filippo Perini, are talking with various companies about producing one-off series of vehicles bearing the Italdesign name.
"Our definition of a one-off is from one to below 100 units," Astalosch said, declining to share further details. At Lamborghini, Perini oversaw the creation of models such as the 1.8 million euro Sesto Elemento, which was limited to 20 units; the Veneno (12 units) and the Centenario (40 units).
'Major players' sought
Italdesign became part of the VW Group in 2010 when the German automaker took 90.1 percent of the company, which was founded in 1968 by Giorgetto Giugiaro and Aldo Mantovani. VW Group purchased the remaining 9.9 percent of Italdesign last year, at which time Giugiaro resigned.