Chinese auto group hires Ferrari car designer Fioravanti

MILAN, April 19 Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:42pm EDT

MILAN, April 19 (Reuters) - Chinese state auto group Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co (BAIC) has deepened its ties with Leonardo Fioravanti, hiring the Italian designer of a string of Ferrari sportscars as a consultant.

"BAIC has asked Leonardo Fioravanti to personally supervise projects, as a consultant, including one advising BAIC on building its own brand," Luca Fioravanti, an executive at the family-held design house, told Reuters on Thursday.

The move highlights increasingly close links between Asian carmakers and Italian car designers. Fioravanti, the design house, formed a partnership with Shanghai-based design and engineering consultancy Eastone, and will unveil a concept car for BAIC designed with Eastone at the Bejing Motor Show next week.

Chinese car manufacturers like Beijing Automotive, Chery, Brilliance and First Auto Works displayed Italy-designed concept cars at last year's Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, and the trend will likely be in evidence again at the 2012 show.

BAIC is set to roll out its own brand this year, based on Saab technology, its chairman said on Tuesday.

Turin-based car designers Pininfarina, Torino Design, and Fioravanti said they will all be at the Beijing show with concept cars or talking to clients.

Fioravanti is based outside of Turin, Italy, and has a client list that includes Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, Peugeot, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Hyundai and General Motors.