Italian automaker De Tomaso is on the brink of bankruptcy but before it gives up totally, it makes a final attempt to ask for the support of major automakers, according to reports by Reuters and Torino Today. De Tomaso has solidified its reputation with the Pantera, a sports car with a Ford V-8 engine that had its launch in the 1970s. It seemed that De Tomaso’s suffering is relentless. De Tomaso had been formed from the demise of a former Pininfarina plant. In 2011, it unveiled the SLS Concept (its name was later changed to Deauville). It’s basically a crossover based on the Cadillac SRX.
De Tomaso had a plan to sell 3,000 units of the Deauville (with a price tag of $115,000) each year. However, it later decided to sell the production rights to a Chinese firm for $19.4 million. The buyer company was NAC, a sister company of SAIC.
De Tomaso has acknowledged that it would have to shut down and end operations even as it hopes to evade bankruptcy and enter a deal with creditors. Reuters said that the government of De Tomaso’s home region of Piedmont, Italy, has approached big automakers for support. BMW is one of the companies being courted. So far, BMW has not denied being interested in buying the company or its assets.
De Tomaso will present a concept that is designed by Pininfarina for a premium big crossover, called Sport Luxury Sedan or SLS. This 4-wheel-drive SLS is expected to go into production using 2 gasoline engines: a 300-hp V-6 and a 550-hp V-8. The final name for the SLS is going to be revealed at the Geneva press conference on March 1, 2011.
The new company’s chair, Gianmario Rossignolo – who served Fiat group for 22 years, where he also served as a top marketing executive – revealed plans of building 3,000 SLS units every year, as well as 2,000 coupes and 3,000 limousines. These cars will be produced at the De Tomaso Automobili S.p.A. facility near Turin, which used to be a Pininfarina S.p.A. plant, and at the ex-Delphi workers’ factory in Livorno.
Rossignolo signed a deal in December 2009 to rent Pininfarina's Grugliasco plant, in the outskirts of Turin, Italy, which is one of three Pininfarina facilities. The Grugliasco plant employs 900 people at the present and it includes a body shop, a final assembly facility, and a paint shop. Meanwhile, the Livorno facility will employ 150 people.
De Tomaso's business plan foresees a 3-model range of aluminum vehicles that are based on Univis, an innovative construction technology that requires about 30 days to produce a vehicle. De Tomaso will invest EUR116 million in its rebirth project.