The CEO of Pininfarina, Andrea Pininfarina, was killed early this morning after the motorbike he was riding on collided with a car near the company’s Cambiano design center in Turin, Italy. While details are still scarce, preliminary local police reports claim the car crashed into Pininfarina's motorbike at 8.15am local time.

Andrea Pininfarina was the grandson of the design studio’s original founder, Battista Farina, and son to the chairman of the company, Sergio Pininfarina, who was inducted into the European Automotive Hall of Fame earlier this year).

His death comes at a crucial time for the legendary design house. Last year the firm recorded a consolidated net loss of €114.9 million ($177.5 million), up from €21.9 million ($33.8 million) the previous year, reports Automotive News.

In 1981 Pininfarina graduated from Polytechnic of Turin as a mechanical engineer and in 1982 was employed by Freuehauf Corp. in the U.S. He only started at the Pininfarina design house in 1983, where his first job was program manager for the Cadillac Allanté project. In 1987 he was promoted to general manager, before becoming managing director in 1994 and CEO in 2001.

Andrea Pininfarina was aged 51 and is survived by his wife Cristiana, and two sons and a daughter.