Pininfarina S.p.A., the Italian car design firm and coachbuilder will begin operations in Shanghai International Automobile City’s Auto Research and Development Harbor, the Beijing Morning Post reports.
With an investment of 1.5 billion yuan (238 million U.S. dollars), the Auto R&D Harbor covers an area of 186 mu (12.4 hectare), in which 120 independent research and development houses are planned to be built.
The firm said it will build up a team of more than 100 people of mostly local talent at the harbor inthe next few years.
Recent foreign reports cited Silvio Pietro Angori, the firm’s CEO, saying that China is likely tobecome the biggest market for Pininfarina by the end of this year, supplanting Germany in annualrevenue. Currently about 35 percent of the firm’s global revenue is generated by each country.
Others in the automobile industry have realized the importance of China on the global stage. Mercedes-Benz and Audi have already established design laboratories in the country, while Nissan has built a specialized design center, aimed at making models specific to Chinese tastes.
Pininfarina forecast a return to profit in 2012, its first since 2004, as lower financial charges from a debt restructuring help its bottom line and its design and engineering business improves.
The Italian design firm said in a statement on Friday it expects to make an operating loss in 2012, but will earn a net profit because it will benefit from a one-time gain of around 45 million euros.