Fiat scion positions his firm to help value brands Tata, Ikea

Fiat heir Lapo Elkann is looking to extend his customization business into value brands ranging from Indian automaker Tata to Swedish furniture giant Ikea.

"We are in talks for a cooperation with Ikea," Elkann, who is founder and CEO of Garage Italia Customs, told the Automotive News Europe Congress in Turin.

He added that he would be open to working with the Tata or Mini brands because he doesn’t want his company to exclusively cater to the high-end market.

In 2006, Elkann left Fiat, which was co-founded by his great-great-grandfather Giovanni Agnelli. He returned to the auto industry in 2015 with Garage Italia Customs, a Milan-based company that customizes everything from cars to boats to furniture.

He remains a shareholder in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and sits on Ferrari’s board but said Garage Italia and his money-losing eyewear design firm, Italia Independent, are independent. "We have nothing to do with FCA," he said.

Elkann told the Congress that he strives to surround himself with talented people who challenge him. He latest hire is Carolina Rossi, who was head of brand promotion at Ferrari.

Rossi will act as head of licensing and brand development at Garage Italia. Elkann said she will join a company that doesn’t require 20 boards to make a decision.

"We cut the crap very quickly," Elkann said. 

Lapo also revealed during the Congress that he has "invented and patented" two new colors: light blue Azzurro Lapo and Blue Navy Garage Italia.

Among his future plans, he said Garage Italia will work for the hotel industry and is toying with the idea of opening an office in the U.S., although he has not yet decided whether the location could be Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami or New York City.