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Aston to triple sales thanks to DBX SUV and more

Spectre: Technologies developed in Aston Martin’s latest model, the DB11 (left), will help influence development of its future models, including its DBX (below) crossover and two large-sized Lagonda luxury sedans.

Mid-engined sportscar from Aston Martin also planned as Ferrari and Lambo rival

24 Mar 2017

ASTON Martin has laid bare its long-term plans, revealing the new and updated models it will bring to market over the next seven years that will help push its annual global sales past 10,000, making the company bigger than Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren.

Speaking to Australian journalists at the public debut of the Vantage S Red Bull Racing Edition on the eve of the Melbourne Grand Prix, Aston Martin president and CEO Andy Palmer revealed that the marque is in the midst of refreshing its three core sportscar offerings.

“2016, DB11. 2017, Vantage. 2018, Vanquish replacement,” he said. “And all of the derivatives that go along with that, so, for example, we have a V12 engine, we have a V8 engine and of course we have a coupe and Volante.

“So we’re right in the start of that core strengthening phase and that takes us to, if you will, the limit of what we know.”

Mr Palmer also revealed to GoAuto that the new Vantage would be the first to bare the fruits of the deal struck with AMG to supply engines for its sportscars, likely in a turbocharged V8 configuration.

However, production of its three-sportscar portfolio is capped at around 7000 units a year at its Gaydon, England plant, where each car is hand built to specifications, and for the company to grow its sales beyond its 2016 total of 3700, new models and a new plant needs to come on stream.

“In 2019 we enter into perhaps the most exciting point in our history, and that is the portfolio expansion,” Mr Palmer said.

“Then… we see DBX, which is our very first SUV.

“A mid-engined sportscar – and we all know how they look like, they tend to be today, either red or yellow – and then Langonda 1 and Lagonda 2, basically competing with Rolls-Royce and Bentley.”

First revealed in concept form at 2015’s Geneva motor show, the DBX’s vision statement is to be the world’s most beautiful SUV, and is now locked for a late-2019 showroom debut.

“We’ll be producing the first prototypes by the third quarter of 2018, so 18 months from now,” Mr Palmer said.

“Design is pretty much fixed and we’re in full engineering flow at the moment.

It will be launched by the end of 2019.”

The DBX, as well as the two Lagonda luxury sedans, will borrow the bonded aluminium construction from the DB11 as a means to save weight without comprising structural integrity and both will be produced at Aston Martin’s recently acquired St Athan production site in southern Wales, which has the potential to produce an additional 7000 units for the brand.

“To be clear, we’re talking about 7000 sportscars a year in Gaydon, and then we’ll have capacity – that’s not the same as making – 7000 large cars, SUVs and Lagondas in Wales,” he said.

“Every car coming out of that factory will have the sill plaque ‘made in Wales’ the same way you see in the sportscars that say ‘made in England’.

“So I anticipate that we’ll be making around 10,000 cars a year, or a little over 10,000 cars a year, and that’s seven cars, around 1200 units per car, and that’s not unbelievable, I believe.”

In comparison, last year Ferrari topped the supercar sales charts with 8014 vehicles sold, a 4.6 per cent jump over 2015’s take, while Lamborghini sold 3457 vehicles and McLaren moved 3286 units, a respective increase of seven and 99.3 per cent.

Aston Martin on the other hand, sold 3687 vehicles representing a 1.9 per cent increase, largely on the back of a strong uptake in the new DB11 – which is now sold out until 2018.

However, the dark horse of Aston’s future product line-up is its secondmid-engined sportscar, after the recently christened Valkyrie hypercar built in collaboration with Red Bull Racing.

Mr Palmer said the Valkyrie would serve as mid-ship reputation builder for the brand, where the new sportscar is set to take the fight to the likes of the Ferrari 488 GTB, Lamborghini Huracan and recently revealed McLaren 720S.

“Rather than going and creating a car that, say, competes with something like the 488…. For us the idea was to create Valkyrie first, demonstrate you could make… a car of the decade and that somehow gives you that halo to then have credibility and experience in that mid-engine segment,” he said.

However, when GoAuto probed him about which powertrain could underpin Aston’s first ever production mid-ship model, Mr Palmer frankly answered, “honestly, I haven’t decided yet… we’ve got three configurations that are currently competing with each other”.

The most obvious engine choice would be a force-fed V8, matching the engine configuration of the 4.0-litre twin-turbo 720S and 3.9-litre twin-turbo 488 GTB, but smaller than the 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 of the Huracan.

Power output would need to be around 450kW to keep up with the Lambo, but would need to be at around 500-530kW to keep up with the Ferrari and McLaren.

With seven established models, Mr Palmer revealed that the plan – dubbed Second Century as Aston Martin moves into its 104th year building cars – was simply to update a different model each year moving forward.

“Seven cars, one every year, each car having a seven-year life, copy, repeat, copy, repeat, copy repeat,” he said.

“We’re now a car company with tempo, we are a car company that is generating enough money from the launch of its new cars to then invest in the next car and the next car and the next car.

“It’s not a car company that is going to go bankrupt, it is a car company that is sustainable and that’s ultimately what the Second Century plan is all about.”

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