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Fioravanti expands into China in partnership with Eastone

Wed, 18 Apr 2012

Renowned Italian design house Fioravanti has formed a partnership with Shanghai-based design and engineering consultancy Eastone. The aim of this powerful duo is to deliver a wide range of design and build services directly to Chinese OEMs, with the first fruit of their labors being a concept car for Chinese manufacturer BAIC, to be unveiled at the Beijing auto show.

For the first time in their own country, Chinese OEMs can now benefit from the time-served capabilities, knowledge and car culture typical of a leading Italian design house, while simultaneously gaining from the local knowledge, strong relationships and powerful commercial strength of a domestic design company. In short, the aim of this new partnership is to allow Chinese companies to benefit from Fioravanti's design and engineering excellence on home ground and on their own terms.

Between them, Fioravanti and Eastone offer a broad portfolio of skills and services, including vehicle packaging, 2D and 3D styling research and 1:4 or 1:1 scale exterior and interior styling models in either clay or hard resin. In addition, show car realization to running prototype level and feasibility studies can also be undertaken. At the ultimate conclusion of a project, interior or exterior body parts can be engineered to a production standard. All of these processes are underscored with Fioravanti's experience gathered over decades in the automotive business.

Currently, the partnership boasts a team of 15 based in Italy, and a further 70 staff based in Shanghai. However, that number is expected to rise to a combined total of 100 in the coming months as a number of other projects are being currently worked on. Fioravanti and Eastone are in a position to work with any Chinese manufacturer that wishes to benefit from their skills and services, with the assurance of complete confidentiality: after all, they are well used to working with different manufacturers and projects concurrently.

Fioravanti is no stranger to auto show debuts, having unveiled 13 concept cars since 1994. Legendary designer Leonardo Fioravanti, who during the course of a varied career spent 24 years at Pininfarina and was responsible for some of the most beautiful and significant Ferraris ever realized, formed the design house in 1987 as an architectural practice.

These days his sons Matteo (Design Director) and Luca (Head of Business Development) have full control of the company, with the Eastone partnership being just one of their initiatives. In addition to the core automotive business have interests in architecture, boat design and railways. Their client list includes collaborations with major automotive players such as Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, Peugeot, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota-Lexus, Hyundai and General Motors.

Eastone was established in 2000 as an automotive design consultancy. Formerly known as GMP, since 2004 the firm has been responsible for much of BAIC's design, such as the exterior and interior of the Roewe 750 and 550 amongst others, and latterly other brand's products such as the SGMW Po Chun 630. They have also acted as a technical consultant and provided localization support for cars such as the Chrysler 300C and FAW Audi A6L, to name just a couple.

Fioravanti is now ideally placed to add a significant number of Chinese manufacturers to that roll call of names, with the BAIC concept car set to be the first step on that road to mutual success.

The new concept car is an imposing, 5,300mm-long luxury limousine for the Chinese market and specifically aimed at senior business leaders and dignitaries. Eastone developed the exterior styling in its Shanghai studio, using its invaluable understanding of the local market and culture. The final design was honed on a 1:1 scale clay model before being sent to Fioravanti's headquarters near Turin to be turned into a running prototype. The interior design was also developed from initial sketch to final running vehicle in Italy.

With its broad, vertical grille, long wheelbase and semi-fastback - but still recognizably three-box - proportions, the BAIC concept offers a glimpse into the possibilities generated by this new partnership. Inside, the lack of B-pillars generates a spacious and luxurious feel to the cabin, with prominence given to the BAIC logo and finely crafted details such as the sculptured wooden door panels and the ‘technological stripe' that integrates driver information and other displays on the dashboard.