Yesterday, Indian automaker Mahindra made its long-predicted purchase of Pininfarina official. The Italian design house, famous for shaping every Ferrari product from the mid-1950s until the LaFerrari, has had a decade of financial troubles, and Mahindra's purchase will likely spare it from financial ruin.
But what does Mahindra want to do with Pininfarina? To find out, R&T spoke with Krishna Bala, VP and Head of Automotive and Aerospace Business at Tech Mahindra, the Indian automaker's product development, engineering, and information technology arm.
Mahindra operates as one gigantic holding group with companies in ten different sectors: Aerospace and defense, automobiles, the automotive aftermarket, farm equipment, financial services, hospitality, information technology, business partnerships, real estate, and motorcycles and scooters. Pininfarina has been acquired by a joint venture company comprised of Mahindra Group (the parent company), Mahindra & Mahindra (the automotive arm), and Tech Mahindra (the tech services company that serves the auto industry).
Bala says the new partnership won't affect Pininfarina's longstanding agreements with other automakers. "The Ferrari relationship will continue," Bala told R&T. "The Maserati relationship will continue, all of [Pininfarina's] relationships will continue as-is."
Will the change force a re-location of Pininfarina? "No, it'll continue to be where it is," Bala said. "It is listed on the Milan stock exchange, and Mr. [Paolo] Pininfarina will continue as chairman. So everything remains the same, we will only look for more synergies between Mahindra & Mahindra, Tech Mahindra, and Pininfarina."
And what about the rumors of a Pininfarina-branded vehicle coming to the U.S. market? "We are working with all the top-tier automotive customers in North America," Bala says of Tech Mahindra. "The relationship with Pininfarina is quite strong on the European side, not so much here [in the U.S.]. In that respect, you will see as we move forward more involvement of this offering, which is styling and design, here in the U.S."
When I asked Bala directly if we would see the Pininfarina badge on a future vehicle, he declined to answer.