Design as Strategic Factor for Chinese Automakers: Pininfarina and Angori at the Aachen Colloquium in Beijing
Silvio Pietro Angori, incumbent CEO of Pininfarina, has delivered the following speech as keynote speaker at the Aachen Colloquium China, a major conference on innovations in automotive technology, arranged today and tomorrow in Beijing by Aachen University, one of the most prestigious faculties of automotive engineering in the country.
Owing to its already well-established presence in China, where it has been operating since 1997, Pininfarina was asked to participate in the Aachen Colloquium. The theme of Angori’s speech is design as a strategic factor for the success of automotive manufacturers in fast growing markets like China:
“In China they perceive Pininfarina like a Renaissance workshop of Italian design. The key to our success in China, as well as in other markets, is also linked to our independence, which enables us to freely communicate with all major manufacturers without being tied to any of them. The company is in a fast growing path and just recently, in fact, has gained new important contracts from premium global customers.
“In the case of China, recent collaborations include BAIC, Brilliance, Chery, FAW, JAC, SAIC, to mention only those not covered by confidentiality. Creating consistent and effective collaborations, interpreting the identity of the most famous brands in the world through iconic projects with a high aesthetic value, shaping the technology: this is the Italian excellence, this is what an independent design house can offer as a competitive added value to the automotive industry.
“Emotion and passion can be translated into any kind of vehicle, whether it’s a city car or a luxury car, a car for Western markets or a model for fast growing markets. The design is the real differentiator between the various models offered and the brand identity is its tangible expression. This is the reason why OEMs’ investments on design should be a substantial budget item for the development of new models. The most successful OEMs in the world are those who have centered their industrial policies on design as a distinctive element.
“A strong brand is distinguished primarily by its positioning and the immediate and unambiguous recognition: design, applied to the entire range, must be the concrete representation of the intrinsic values of the brand. Our long experience in the Chinese market enables us to say that the Chinese car manufacturers still have two main challenges: the brand identity and a perception of inadequate quality of their products. These issues are fundamental to the success of any vehicle.
“From the Pininfarina point of view, Chinese OEMs should focus on creating a clear brand identity and work to increase the perception of the quality of their vehicles. To achieve these goals, they should rely more on those who are able to help them understand the development process of a vehicle, which is characterized by attention to detail and experience built over decades. Despite the occasional integration of international professionals in their internal style teams, the most effective approach remains the long-term collaboration with very structured and solid design houses who can guide them to build well-rounded and experienced design departments.
“Chinese manufacturers are focusing on the electric and hybrid technologies. The design language is also central to communicating the specifics of these vehicles. Pininfarina’s experience in sustainable mobility, which has led to projects such as the electric cars BlueCar and Nido EV and innovative concepts such as the Cambiano, can help to support manufacturers in combining new sustainable technologies with successful design. Indeed, highly innovative design and cutting-edge technologies may allow Chinese OEMs to quickly become leaders in the global automotive worlds.”
Silvio Pietro Angori, Pininfarina CEO.