NEWPORT PAGNELL, England - The same week that Ford became the sole bidder for Daewoo, one of its key advisors in the negotiations was named CEO of Ford's supercar unit, Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd.
Ulrich Bez, who has served as an advisor to Ford since the start of the year, gained his sports car pedigree as product development chief of Porsche.
Bez was most recently vice president of engineering at Daewoo. He was earlier head of BMW's M-Technik performance unit.
Bez's knowledge of Daewoo helped Ford overtake favored bidders General Motors/Fiat and DaimlerChrysler/Hyundai with a $7 billion offer on June 29. Ford still has to go through a six-week due diligence and negotiating procedure with a committee representing Daewoo's creditors.
Outgoing Aston Martin Chairman and CEO Bob Dover introduced Bez to the global Aston Martin dealer body on the weekend of July 8-9 in Monte Carlo. Dover has been appointed chairman and CEO of Land Rover.
Bez comes to Aston Martin as it is preparing to launch a new model, the V12 Vanquish.
The car will be unveiled at the British International Motor Show in Birmingham in October.
The V12 Vanquish will be made at Aston Martin's plant in Newport Pagnell, England. It will replace the V8 Coupe, V8 Vantage and V8 Volante.
Harry Calton, Aston Martin spokesman, said V12 Vanquish production would be about 300 units a year.
Aston Martin's 'volume' car is the DB7, made at its other English factory in Bloxham. About 900 DB7s will be made this year. That would give Aston Martin a total annual output of about 1,000 units - a company record. Most DB7s are equipped with V12 engines.
To accommodate the growth, Aston Martin is also in the middle of an $8 million investment program in its two factories. The Newport Pagnell plant is being refurbished for the V12 Vanquish and Bloxham is gaining a new paint shop.
Aston Martin is the smallest volume brand in Ford's Premier Automotive Group, which also includes Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover and Lincoln. But Ford wants to grow Aston Martin into a viable Ferrari competitor. Ferrari builds about 3,000 cars a year.
To achieve that sort of volume, Aston Martin is planning a third model. This car is still in the planning stages and has yet to receive program approval. It is expected to become Aston Martin's entry-level model, fitting below the DB7 in the lineup.