MILAN (Bloomberg) -- Aston Martin aims to double annual vehicle sales to 7,000 by 2016 with new models and an expansion of its dealer network outside Europe.
The carmaker also plans to appoint a new CEO in the next three months, according to a person with direct knowledge of the plans, who asked not to be identified as the matter is private.
Current CEO Ulrich Bez, who has led the carmaker since 2000, will probably become a non-executive chairman. Aston Martin already has several candidates for the CEO post, the person said. A company representative declined to comment.
The person said the carmaker may also add an SUV to its lineup to broaden its appeal.
Aston Martin is the only global luxury-auto producer that doesn't belong to a larger manufacturing group.
After London-based investment firm Investindustrial purchased a 37.5 percent stake last year, the carmaker laid out plans in January to spend 500 million pounds ($785 million) on expansion in the next four years to challenge rival luxury brands Bentley, Ferrari and Maserati.
Investindustrial Chairman Andrea Bonomi has said he wants to expand Aston's lineup while establishing partnerships to limit the cost of developing models.
The carmaker signed a deal in July to obtain engines from the AMG high-performance division of Daimler. The German carmaker will receive a 5 percent stake in Aston over time, depending on the progress of their technical partnership.
7,000 sales goal
Aston Martin has a target of boosting annual sales to about 7,000 vehicles in 2016 from about 3,400 cars in 2012, with growth propelled by catering to growing demand in Asia, North and South America, said the person.
The carmaker may then develop, as a second part of its expansion plan, an SUV designed to attract wealthy drivers, the person said, adding that Investindustrial may boost its holding in the carmaker in the coming years with a capital increase needed to invest in new projects, such as the SUV.
"Aston Martin, which now has such a considerable partner as Daimler, has a lot of cachet related to James Bond movies which hasn't been fully exploited, so it could find its space in the growing luxury SUV market," said Ian Fletcher, an analyst at IHS Automotive in London.
IHS estimates Aston may double annual sales to 7,530 cars in 2017, helped by new V-8 engine versions of the Vantage and DB9 models. The prediction excludes an SUV.
Fiat's Maserati and VW's Bentley are among supercar makers developing SUVs to expand in the United States and emerging markets such as China and Russia, where there's a growing class of wealthy consumers. Longer driving distances and larger areas of undeveloped land also make SUVs popular in all three countries.
Investindustrial, which also sold Italian motorcycle maker Ducati to Audi in mid-2012, completed the 190 million euro purchase of the Aston stake in May, and gained management control of the carmaker, which is celebrating its centennial this year.
Bonomi pledged in January to remain an Aston Martin shareholder for at least 10 years. Aston Martin's other shareholders are Kuwaiti companies Investment Dar and Adeem Investment Co., which bought the carmaker in 2007 from Ford Motor Co.