Jorg Astalosch | Founder & CEO | Italdesign

Italdesign: Bringing Italian Perfection in Automotive Design

Have you ever wondered, if your car was designed by an Italian company with great heritage and typical Italian classic design language? If yes, then Italdesign is the perfect stop to rely on. With fifty years of experience, it has worked closely with car makers starting from the first product definition up to the start of production.

Companies in the automotive sector can benefit from Italdesign’s consultancy services for various turnkey projects, covering all the phases through the development of styling, concept and vehicle architecture, series engineering, simulation, prototyping, testing, and final production tuning. In addition, Italdesign can provide services for shorter projects covering only a part of the overall vehicle development cycle.

In an interview with Insights Success, a spokesperson of Italdesign shares the exciting journey of the organization, and its vision.

Below are the highlights of the interview between Insights Success and Italdesign;

Give a brief overview of Italdesign, and its vision. 

Italdesign is a state-of-the-art customer-centric, method and fact-based company operating in four major areas: Design, Engineering, Production and New Mobility Solutions. Our mission and vision are being among the key players in the mobility world.

What inspired Italdesign to enter into this segment? 

Fifty years ago, designing and engineering automobiles in Turin for national and international carmakers meant everything except a novelty. The new formula created by Italdesign envisaged the strong combination in simultaneous engineering of design, development and production so to offer an organic set of methods, techniques and tools allowing a product and production process integrated design approach, embracing concepts such as time-to-market and design-to-cost. This is still valid today.

What are the cutting-edge automotive tech solutions offered by Italdesign? 

We believe that only innovation will keep us cutting edge. This means we constantly have to push that our customers can achieve competitive advantages. And none of our working fields can be an exception. Neither the classical ones like the body in white development nor newer fields like HMI/UX or new business fields like the special processes to run Small Series Production run, fully homologated, in about 1,5 years from the first sketch to the first delivery.

Let us take the HMI /UX as an example. Last year we up set an HMI Lab to define, develop and test the ergonomic validation of next-generation vehicles thanks to a fully-adjusting seating buck, for all cars between Hypercar or delivery van. We have created a multidisciplinary environment to perform analysis and studies focusing on HMI/UX and allowing an Immersive Experience through cutting-edge VR technologies. This year we have further improved this tool and our HMI/UX team has worked on the design of a state-of-the-art, modular, fully customizable and flexible HMI platform able to offer HMI solutions especially for Ultra- Limited Series Production. And there is more: Immersive Engineering, for example, is an innovative tool based on VR. With IE we can visualize real-time engineering CAD data and technical specifications and monitor the status of the project to minimize blunders and increase the quality of our final product.

Give a detailed description of the Founder’s contribution over Italdesign and the industry. 

Our Founders, Giorgetto Giugiaro, and Aldo Mantovani started Italdesign with a simultaneous engineering approach we would call agile today – small cross-functional teams that work in a customer-centric way, delivering solutions making our customers, usually OEMs, more successful. The company has grown over the years: today we are a turnkey-project service provider of 1,000 experts offering turnkey development solutions for future vehicles and complete mobility concepts, incl. the development of the business models and the so-called Ultra Limited Series Production for e.g. special sports car series. Today the Italdesign management accepted the challenge to ensure that the 1,000 experts of Italdesign will shape also in the next year’s mobility for the people and create exciting new ideas. So we take the responsibility for our team and ensure that this brilliant group of 1,000 and all our partners throughout the industry can fully live their creativity and ingenuity.

What strategies has Italdesign undertaken to stay ahead of the competition? 

We are running for years a consequent strategy process that engages all our people, explaining the need for permanent change, creating buy-in and engagement. Our people are carrying the constant change, always understanding that they are committed to the customers.

Various short- and long-term initiatives exist, such as  -HMI and UX, that represents the combination between Design and Development and is a key instrument for a people-centered innovation and communication.;

-DIGITIZATION. From internal digital processes to digital business models, we are optimizing all in this initiative and leave no stone unturned. This has a direct impact on the business, e.g. we can run a fully-virtual design process, closely interlinked with a highly virtual development process. The Nissan GTR50 by Italdesign was developed, engineered and built by us, fully digital.

-SMART CITIES. Since 2016, the pace of transformation in the automotive industry has accelerated dramatically and we are in the middle of the age of radical change in the automotive industry. A massive transformation of socio-physical spaces is taking place – the landscape, the city, the social relationships – affecting infrastructures, software programs, laws, insurances. We are all involved. We have invested in R&D and human resources to offer advanced technologies and new services for citizens, aiming to rethink cities and become a service provider of smart solutions. We have presented a pilot project named InTO aiming to give support to metro users in their distribution in coaches, especially during rush hours, in order to optimize their comfort onboard and provide a higher-quality service. Also the projects WheeM-i reflects what we understand by ’future mobility’ namely providing solutions to emerging needs within smart aka connected cities. Also, we are part of the City of Turin Lab for Autonomous and Connected Driving in Urban Environment for the ideation, creation, and realization of Smart Roads.

-COMPETENCE TRANSFORMATION. Ours is a team of 1,000 experts, all together we represent 15,000 years of experience in the automotive and non-automotive development fields and 190 different professionalisms. This wealth of knowledge must be kept, increased and adapted to promptly respond and anticipate the market requirements in terms of know-how and social skills. We are doing this by promoting a “learning culture”, therefore boosting employee’s awareness and engagement about technical evolution changes, defining a strategic training plan to foster new competencies and careers, by supporting a program for encouraging the change, involving all the employees in an active way.

Besides those initiatives, which are carried by our people, without external consulters, we run various other action items to further improve our status quo and stay relevant.

Describe the experiences, achievements or lessons learned that has shaped the journey of Italdesign. 

We always have to ask ourselves the question: how can we improve the life of the people in a sustainable way? If we have solutions for that, developed in our customer-centric way, we ultimately make our direct customers, the OEMs, new or established, more successful. How can we offer more complete solutions? In the past there have been cars like the first MPV or the VW Golf, like the Fiat Panda or Uno. Or WheeM-i, the work we’ve conducted with the Toyota Unlimited Mobility Foundation and our Urban Air Mobility work. One thing was always key – the cooperation across the departments, between different skills and competences, also with our partner network, always focussed on the customer needs. We will continue to investigate the future mobility as this is in our DNA and keep the company’s forward thinking one step ahead.

Describe the ways in which your automotive tech solutions are focused on being customer centric. 

We support our customers by understanding their needs and the needs of their customers and by applying standardized processes to develop solutions for their challenges that are based in the ideation methods. In terms of tech solutions, we have adopted an electronic tracking allowing then to be always aware of what part of their projects we are working on and where we are with the complete work; and our PLM, a system consenting to manage in an efficient and costeffective way the product lifecycle, from its conception phase, to its development, its launch onto the market and final distribution. It allows the development of the product in a multi-target and IT-based environment, since the product life-cycle management integrates people, documents, data, and processes. It’s also a new business for us as we are selling this service and software.

With the growing competition, how does your company ensure optimal efficiency for its customers? 

Our daily doing is to focus on drivers as Customer Understanding, Speed, Competitiveness, Precision, Methods, Innovation Spirit, Sustainability and Efficiency. We are aiming to ensure the efficiency and the effectiveness of all the processes through the direct involvement of our people, with a continuous improvement approach and creating value for the customer. It’s all about the analysis of processes, the identification of waste, bottlenecks and consequent KPI follow up as well as about standardization and the creation of leaner processes by using dedicated methodologies.

Where Italdesign does sees itself in the long run and what are its future goals? 

Our aim is that we make those who work with us on any form of mobility more successful in business and that we improve the life of the people by all means of sustainable mobility. We excited customers in the past 50 years and shaped new trends, like the first minivan or the most successful compact car, we made them dream by visionary ideas like the modular urban air mobility Pop.Up Next. We see ourselves more globalized, at the forefront of mobility, playing the role of an incubator with our highly competent series development team of professionals.

Give us a few testimonials of your clients that accurately highlight Italdesign’s position in the market.

Our ambition is to take on the same importance we had in the past, and even more. We are considered as a reliable development partner and currently enjoy prestige among traditional carmakers, but start-ups and new players are stepping forward to explore with us future scenarios and model future mobility. Let me mention the Mini 2nd Generation, for which BMW Group asked us to coordinate the development and validation of the body, structure and chassis, the building of the pre-series prototypes, the vehicle release and the SOP assistance and the Volkswagen Group that relied on us to engineer successful vehicles. Also, we have been honoured by Nissan to name our common work for them the GT-R50 by Italdesign. Finally, also our industrial clients like world renowned Okamura or SAME Deutz-Fahr have launched successful products created with us.

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