“It can be a form of transportation from point A to point B”, Ramaciotti continues, “ but it’s also the highest household cost. It’s a purchase that always includes an emotional side, and it’s difficult to foresee the behaviour of the customer.”
It’s reassuring to hear Ramaciotti frame the growth of electrification and autonomous driving within the context of his career – 32 years at Pininfarina, latterly as the boss, and then shortly before his recent retirement, as Head of Global Design for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, where he continues in an advisory capacity. In his 43 years in automotive design, Ramaciotti has led the development of more than 60 cars, be they in production or concept form.
“I think this [automous driving] is the latest in a long line of changes,” he says. “You can see at the end of the Sixties they were forecasting a future where the wheels were disappearing: cars looked like space shuttles, and almost none of that is here. You can only extrapolate what you know. We are going round in cars that look like the Sixties ones, but inside we have connections that have changed our lives.
“When I started, in 1972, there was a big oil crisis and the forecasters said by the year 2000 we’d run out of oil, but today we don’t know when the oil will be finished”, he says with a shrug. Everything this man says, I find strangely reassuring.
Still, we are here in the midst of the Forties, Fifties and Sixties at the Revival, so back to that heyday of beautiful, timeless, elegant designs, so many of which emanated from the coach builders and manufacturers in Italy. How come?