Paolo Mantelli A tactile, full-body experience
In the eyes of Paolo Mantelli, a car is not simply a practical means of getting from A to B on four wheels: it is a tactile, full-body experience.
The exquisite power of acceleration, the roar unleashed by a 12-cylinder engine, the sleek layers of paint, the cool touch of a leather steering wheel and the pungent odor of oil and gasoline – for Mantelli, these are all a feast for the senses. They arouse his passion. The 44-year-old lives for cars. Interwoven carbon molecules run through his DNA. “My weakness for cars goes back to boyhood. I already knew as a kid that I was destined to work in the automobile industry,” this pleasant and candid Italian says. A PhD in mechanical engineering from the Polytechnic University of Turin in 1994 pointed him in the right direction. After a brief two-year stint working for the supplier Delphi, heaven finally had mercy on him, and Mantelli was hired by Oerlikon Graziano in 1996. At that time, Oerlikon Graziano was in the process of transforming itself from a components manufacturer into a systems supplier and seeking to gain a foothold in the at- tractive sports car niche. “I was there to experience Oerlikon Graziano’s first order to build a transmission for Ferrari back in 1996,” Mantelli recalls, his eyes shining with excitement.
He went on to make the most of the cards that fate had dealt him. Thanks to his passion, enthusiasm and know-how, Mantelli has made significant contributions to Oerlikon Graziano’s rise to becoming one of the most sought-after suppliers of transmission systems for the world’s top automobile brands. Today, Oerlikon Graziano has a 50 percent share in this market, and in addition to Ferrari, supplies the likes of Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Maserati, McLaren and others. Mantelli and his team are establishing a new world record with the newest Lamborghini Aventador model: the Oerlikon Graziano automated manual transmission shifts gears in just 50 milliseconds. Mantelli has headed the Automotive Transmissions business unit since 2006.
The secret to his success is his proximity to his customers. “We have successfully managed the transition from supplier to respected develop- ment partner,” Mantelli explains. The new McLaren MP4-12C, for which Oerlikon Graziano has developed a unique, customized double-clutch transmission, is a good case in point. By closely following developments in the market, Mantelli and his team had already started to systematically tackle the electric car market three years ago. With its patented seamless shift two-speed transmission, Oerlikon Graziano has established itself as a pacesetter in this market as well. Audi’s new performance E-cars, which the premium carmaker will soon bring to the market, feature a transmis- sion made by Mantelli’s unit.
Anyone who knows this amicable lover of fast cars will be betting that Mantelli will be test-driving electric cars with a gasoline canister secretly stowed away and a stereo system pumping out the sounds of a humming engine.