We’ve pretty much known that Mahindra (and their IT arm, Tech Mahindra) will be buying the legendary-but-currently not-so-profitable design house Pininfarina for quite a while now, but it appears to be all official now. While there’s plenty of speculation about what this will all mean, I’ve spoken with the CEO of Mahindra about the deal, and what I’ve heard sounds very promising.
I actually spoke with Anand Mahindra a while ago about the possibility of Mahindra buying Pininfarina (and Saab, but a lot of outside factors kept that from happening) but couldn’t really publicly discuss it until things were settled. But it was the fact that this call was made at all that made me realize that under Mahindra, Pininfarina will likely be in the best hands it’s been in for quite a while.
Mahindra got Pininfarina for a quite a good deal — 76.06 percent of the company at 1.1 euros/share, and will make an open offer at the same rate for the remaining shares. Pininfarina is in their current state because the role of design houses has dwindled in recent decades, as more companies rely exclusively on in-house design talent.
Anand Mahindra called to talk to me (and, presumably, many other smarter people) about the possible purchase of Pininfarina because he genuinely was interested in what car-loving people of all kinds thought of the idea.
Just think about that for a second — a CEO of a major car company goes out of his way to find people to talk cars with to help make a decision like this, a decision that has to do with revitalizing one of the most well-known names in auto design. That impressed me.
Based on our talk, I think Mahindra’s goal is to leverage the rich design history of Pininfarina and to make cars that will appeal to people who actually know and appreciate that rich design history of Pininfarina — or, as we may call them, gearheads. I mean, I’m pretty sure the cars will be appealing to those who don’t know Pininfarina from pineapple, but my understanding is there’s real hope of creating some legendary cars.
While nothing is confirmed yet, a very real possibility is the idea that, for the first time ever, Pininfarina would be building cars people (well, rich people) can actually buy under its own name. Pininfarina has been designing cars for companies like Ferrari, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Cadillac, Rolls-Royce, and more for decades. They’ve put in the time, built the cars, and I personally think they’ve earned the right to have some cars called Pininfarinas.
Now the big question is just what will those cars be? That Pininfarina name carries a good amount of respect and weight, and it’s likely that the cars designed and built to wear the badge will include both supercars and premium sport/luxury cars, competing with Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Jaguar, and so on.
Of course, nothing’s happened yet, and I’m not actually endorsing any products that Pininfarina will make; no one knows what they will be, even. All I’m saying is that based on what’s been told to me about the goals and focus of the company, I’m confident that we’ll see some interesting results.
Also, I’m confident I’ll never be able to afford any of them, so there’s that. But I’m used to that part.