Italdesign Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary and Teases a Photo of their Latest Car

words: Bill Cho, Italdesign, photo: Italdesign

ItalDesign is, like Lamborghini and Ducati, a wholly owned subsidiary of Audi. Last year at the Geneva Auto Show, Italdesign Automobili Speciali unveiled its first car, the Zerouno. This carbon fiber hyper car is limited to only 5 units which each owner able to customize their car to be unique.

Italdesign is celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2018 and on March 6 at the Geneva International Motor Show, they will hold a press conference. They also released a drawing. It looks to be the spyder version of the Zerouno. If so, it would share the drivetrain and MSS matrix configuration with the R8 and Huracan. Nothing about a Zerouno Spyder has been released…yet. I guess we’ll find out on March 6th.

Read the full press release below.

PRESS RELEASE: Italdesign Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

  • Founded on 13 February 1968, Italdesign is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an event-packed year
  • 50 years spent offering services for the automotive industry, constantly investing in R&D and innovation
  • Innovation in the workplace as well: smart working and flexible spaces to encourage employee collaboration
  • Competition for the under-35s: €40,000 for designing solutions for future mobility in cities

Moncalieri, Italy

Today, Italdesign officially launches the year celebrating the fiftieth anniversary since its foundation. The brainchild of Giorgetto Giugiaro and Aldo Mantovani was formed in Turin in 1968 as a Design, Engineering and Prototyping service company for the automotive world. During this half-century Italdesign has always been one step ahead of market changes and has continued to invest in R&D, technologies, infrastructures and, above all, in people, maintaining its role as a major player in the mobility world.

“We are proud of what we have achieved in these fifty years,” stated CEO Jörg Astalosch. “Italdesign has always stood out for its ability to dare, to be ahead of its time and anticipate the industry’s needs, working daily to raise the bar of quality standards. If we look at the many prototypes we are proud to have at our Moncalieri headquarters which were inspirational for many successful projects for our customers, this attitude for innovation — never an end in itself — is evident even after many decades”.

“Today, we are ready to start the next fifty years with the same mind-set, and with the experience and skills acquired, very motivated and full of energy and ideas. We would like to thank especially our distinguished clients around the world for working with us in the last 50 years, pushing together for the best solutions. We also thank our employees, totally dedicated with their passion and skills to our clients.

“We will celebrate that new start into the next 5 decades throughout the year honouring our employees, networking with existing and new stakeholders worldwide and especially working on most fascinating projects for our customers. It is no coincidence that the logo addition we have presented today, and which will accompany us throughout this year, announces Next 50.”

“In the last 50 years Italdesign has featured many technological milestones and was also responsible for famous design masterpieces” – stated President of Italdesign Dr. Bernd Martens. “Since it became part of our Audi Group in 2010, Italdesign has broadened its skills and competences. It has become a real turnkey-project service provider for us as well.

A year ago, Italdesign started a new chapter as a car producer. With its new Automobili Speciali brand, it now produces ultra-limited editions for selected collectors and other OEMs.

Today, Italdesign is an incubator for new and innovative solutions, not only within the Audi Group, but for the entire world.
When I started my job as President of Italdesign, I got to know a team that works with great passion, plenty of ideas and a lot of expertise. I’m very proud of this team”

Since 1968, Italdesign has been responsible for the styling, the engineering development and the prototyping of about two hundred car models by all the world’s great car makers, producing thousands of prototypes. After having created the first ‘Tre posti’ (three-seaters) in the world in 1968 with the Bizzarrini Manta, the Alfa Romeo Alfasud in 1971, the first production project assigned to the company, the Pop.Up developed with Airbus in 2017* for future mobility, Italdesign has always emphasized its commitment to be a top-tier partner for OEMs working in the highly competitive mobility sector. Having joined the Volkswagen Group in 2010, Italdesign works closely with many prestigious brands of the group and continues to operate on the open market working with manufacturers outside of the Volkswagen Group. “We are also especially proud of having influenced various Industrial Designs in the past 50 years with our team, from trains, to planes, to cameras or Olympic torches”, Jörg Astalosch adds.

“The ‘next 50’ philosophy underpins our company development strategy for the near future,” continued Jörg Astalosch. “The automotive world, or more generally the world of mobility, is changing rapidly. We are on the eve of a great revolution: the boundaries between means, of transportation, services and infrastructures are becoming more and more transient. Italdesign is evolving in line with this process. This is why we have started new initiatives dedicated to future mobility in addition to the services that we have always offered – styling, engineering, testing, validation, pre-series construction and, more recently, the construction of ultra-limited series vehicles under the Automobili Speciali brand”.

With almost a thousand employees across the Italian and German offices and our Barcelona subsidiary, Italdesign has applied the ‘next 50’ philosophy to the employment contract as well. In fact, 2017 saw the start of two experimental flexible working schemes. The first scheme allows staff to work from home two days a month; the second to enjoy greater office hour flexibility, provided that the forty-hour week is respected. Flexibility not only concerns working hours but also a new concept of space inside the company: some departments have been completely revamped to encourage dialogue and collaboration, walls have been knocked down in favour of open environments and desks are no longer assigned as workstations vary according to the projects.

“The natural push to innovate, which is in the DNA of a company such as in our people, also extends to what we offer our staff,” continues Astalosch. “For us, wellbeing does not merely mean assistance or prevention, which are already offered to all our employees and their families, but also focusing on the right work-life balance. Flexibility in managing personal time also refers to a new concept of workspaces within the company: walls are knocked down between the various departments, not only in the metaphorical sense, but also to encourage people to exchange ideas and adopt a flexible and more effective approach.”

The Fiftieth anniversary celebration programme will open officially on 6 March 2018 with the press conference at the Geneva International Motor Show and will continue in June with the company’s attendance at the Turin Motor Show and the Automotive News Europe Congress, organised jointly with Automotive News Europe, which will welcome more than three hundred professionals from the worldwide automotive industry into the Moncalieri headquarters. Again in June the company will open its doors to employees, former employees and families to enjoy the Family Day, that this year will be particularly rich in attractions and events.

The competition on the Future Mobility in Cities theme, launched today and open to young people aged between 18 and 35, is also in line with the “next 50” philosophy. The participants, who may also create groups of five people at most, can submit to a jury of experts, representing different industries, universities and transportation specialist, solutions for future mobility in urban areas, also dedicated to developing countries. Registrations, to be performed on the company’s website, will open on 1 March and close on 1 April. The participants will have to send their projects by 31 August at the latest. The winners will be announced in December 2018. The winners of the competition will be awarded with prizes totally amounting to €40,000.

The International Jury will assess the projects, rewarding the following aspects:

›  Innovation and uniqueness

›  Environmental and user friendly

›  Human Centered approach

›  Design for all

›  Feasibility and realistic

›  T echnologically advanced and pioneering solutions

›  Solutions applicable for developing countries

All the information, rules and procedures for sending projects will be indicated on the Italdesign website. Further updates on the schedule of events will be published on the website in the next few months.


1968-1978: creation and first projects for mass production

On 13 February 1968, Giorgetto Giugiaro and Aldo Mantovani set up SIRP – Studio Italiano Realizzazione Prototipi, and within a few months the company changed its name to Ital Design, to then become Italdesign in 1969. The first prototype was the Bizzarrini Manta, built in just three months to get to the 1969 Turin Motor Show in time. Two years later, the first major project for a production car arrived: Italdesign was responsible for the styling and engineering of the Alfa Romeo Alfasud, which sold more than 1 million units in 12 years.

International recognition arrived in 1974: Volkswagen needed a model to replace the Beetle, by that time thirty years’ old; with typical German pragmatism the Volkswagen managers appointed the Italian importer to recommend the best car designers. After the visit to the 1969 Turin Motor Show, Gerhard Richard Gumpert, assisted by a number of journalists, selected six projects from those presented, four of which had been designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. Italdesign then became responsible for the Golf project which, between 1974 and 1983, sold more than 6 million units.

The first decade ended with a project that would remain a part of history and be the only production interlude: the BMW M1.

1978-1988: collaboration with FIAT, the creation of Giugiaro Design

The Eighties were marked by a fruitful collaboration with the FIA T Group: Panda, Uno, Delta, Prisma, Thema and Croma were some of the most widely sold cars during those years. For the Panda project, Italdesign studied and patented the 4WD, which was also adopted by Lancia’s Rally project in later years and contributed to the Delta’s successes in the world championship. The new decade also saw Italdesign’s activities expand into the field of industrial design, with the creation of the “Giugiaro Design” division.

During the Eighties there was steady expansion into emerging markets such as Korea and Japan. The twentieth anniversary was celebrated with the creation of the Aztec/Aspid/Asgard triptych: three different interpretations with mechanics and platform derived from the Audi 80. Their markedly futuristic lines made Roger Corman, the American movie director, want these prototypes for one of his science-fiction films set in 2030.

1988-1998: Italdesign becomes international

The final decade of the century saw Italdesign invest in two directions: technology and globalisation. Italdesign’s Barcelona subsidiary was established in 1992, in the light of the collaboration with Seat. This was then followed by the opening of two offices in Germany, namely in Ingolstadt and Wolfsburg, the opening of the Palo Alto Design Centre in California and the agency office in Shanghai. In 1999, Italdesign was one of the first private companies in Europe to have a Virtual Reality Center, which was futuristic for that era. In 2001, the Tiny and SUV prototypes were the first to be wholly designed and planned using virtual reality. Alongside its studies for supercars and luxury brands such as Bugatti and VW, Italdesign conducted the first research activities on sustainable and shared mobility. The 1992 Biga project was perhaps too far ahead of its time, but it already envisaged using mobility as a service: the Biga was not a car for sale to private individuals but one to be shared; compact and rational, it was perfect for congested traffic in the historic centres of European cities.

The prototype celebrating the company’s 30 years was the Structura, which was also the official car for Turin’s candidature as the City for the 2006 Winter Olympics.

1998-2008: Italdesign continues to collaborate throughout the world

The Noughties saw Italdesign working successfully in both the automotive and the industrial design fields and opened with a prestigious result: the 24-hour speed record achieved by the Volkswagen W12 on the Nardò circuit. The W12 project had been commissioned by Volkswagen to showcase the newly developed W12 engine. The following year was the year of the Brera, presented as a prototype in Geneva. Its success was such that the Alfa Romeo was ‘forced’ to convert it to a production car, which was then marketed three years later. The Brera won Italdesign over the fifth Golden Compass of its history. In 2003, Italdesign presented Kubang, the first SUV conceived for a sports brand, Maserati. At the same time, in the industrial design field, the successful collaboration continued with Nikon for cameras and a partnership started with the Japanese company Okamura for office design. Both partnerships are still in place today.

The car celebrating the fortieth anniversary was the Quaranta: a hybrid supercar with a unique design, which reinterpreted with a Noughties twist the first prototype manufactured by Italdesign, the Bizzarrini Manta, from which it drew the central driving position and the one-box sports design.

2008-2018: the move to the Volkswagen Group and the challenges for future mobility

In May 2010, the Volkswagen Group acquired 90.1% of Italdesign from the Giugiaro family, to then increase its interest in the company to 100% in July 2015. Together with Audi, Lamborghini and Ducati (acquired in 2012), Italdesign formed the luxury hub within the Group. After a number of years in which Italdesign worked exclusively with the Group’s brands, in 2016 it went back to operating on the open market.
2017 saw the creation of the Italdesign Automobili Speciali brand dedicated to the production of exclusive cars in ultra-limited production. The first of these, the Zerouno, was a carbon-fiber coupé approved for the road but with supercar performance. The five Zerouno models produced were sold in just a few months.

In the same year, Italdesign presented what can be considered a revolution for future mobility. Developed in collaboration with Airbus, Pop.Up envisaged sustainable and shared mobility for the large cities of 2030: a modular system managed by an app that combines a capsule, a terrestrial module and an aerial module thus moving mass mobility from roads to the city sky to reduce road congestion in the megalopoleis of the future.