New Mobility and Design Activities: the Strategy of French and Italian Small Companies

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2013)


industrial design


New mobility and design activities: the strategy of French and Italian small companies
Giulio Calabrese
Instituto di ricerca sull’impresa e lo sviluppo- Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (Ceris-CNR Turin)
Monique Vervaeke
Centre Maurice Halbwachs (CMH-CNRS Paris)

In the context of a difficult situation for the car market (saturated market, a too high rate of car ownership by households in European countries, rise of competition from Asian carmakers in Europe) orders from carmakers to the style/design companies are decreasing. Some famous coachbuilders and style/design firms as Matra, Heulliez, Pininfarina, Bertone, Guingaro encountered financial problems before the 2008 crisis (Calabrese, 2010).
Is the creation of small companies with the objective of launching new electric vehicles an alternative to the decreasing of orders from carmakers in the field of industrial design outsourcing (Calabrese, Vervaeke 2012)?
Are new mobility and new vehicles offering new research opportunities for the style/design companies confronted with the automotive crisis (Vervaeke, 2012)?
In this paper the style/design sector includes small innovative companies creating and experimenting new electric models, and companies offering services in the field of concept cars, mock-ups, prototypes, virtual and physical modelling. Through interviews we compared the evolution of those activities in France and in Italy between 2008 and 2012.
This French and Italian comparative study examines changes between 2008 and 2012 in the turn over and the type of activities during this last 5 years. We study also the evolution of their strategies, the opinions of their CEOs concerning innovation, competitiveness, key hurdles for their growth, cooperation between Italian and French institutions or companies.
A better knowledge of actors involved in the design process and development of alternative vehicles to the dominant fossil fuel vehicle provides a bias for analysis of the major evolution of the automotive industry.

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