Aston Martin will develop two new platforms, add a crossover, refresh its supercar lineup and leverage its technology alliance with Daimler as part of its six-year plan to make the 100-year-old British brand consistently profitable.
“In the first century we went bankrupt seven times,” CEO Andy Palmer told Automotive News Europe. “The second century is about making sure that is not the case.”
Aston Martin aims to return to profit during the course of its revival plan, Palmer said. A key part of the turnaround will be the automaker’s first crossover, which is likely to arrive around 2019 and was previewed at last month’s Geneva auto show by the all-wheel-drive DBX concept.
“We need to be less dependent on a narrow product portfolio,” he said. “It sounds contentious to say Aston Martin is going into crossovers, but sometimes that is what you have to do.”
Palmer, who was Nissan’s chief planning officer before moving to Aston Martin last September, said that the SUV would be joined by a new sedan and a third model. All three will share one of the new platforms.
Before those three vehicles start to arrive, Aston Martin will finish work on a new sports car platform that will underpin replacements for its current three-model range. The first new car from that platform is due in September 2016.
Sales and profit slump
Aston Martin has been struggling for years. Sales last year slipped to about 4,000 supercars from a record of 7,300 in 2007. In 2013 the automaker lost 36 million pounds (about 50 million euros at current exchange rates) and reported a 27 million pound loss in 2012, according to the most recent accounts filed to the British tax authorities.
Palmer said the troubles started when sales of the DB9 supercar, first launched in 2003, did not reach levels needed to help fund next-generation models. Aston Martin’s sales and profits suffered because it was unable to replace the DB9 and the smaller V8/V12 Vantage. Aston Martin is counting on its financial backers to help fund its revival.
The automaker’s main shareholders, private equity groups Investindustrial of Italy and Investment Dar and Adeem Investment of Kuwait, have agreed to back a planned 150 million pound capital hike and range expansion, Palmer said.
Standard & Poor’s cut Aston Martin’s long-term debt by one step to B-, the sixth-highest junk level, on Feb. 13 and placed the company under “creditwatch negative,” indicating that the rating could be reduced again soon. Aston Martin is expected to continue burning cash in 2015 and 2016 on developing new models, according to the ratings firm.
As it races to get its new platforms and models ready, Aston Martin is also introducing new products. The previously Middle East-only Lagonda four-door sedan will be sold globally and the company will offer the limited-edition, track-only Vulcan hypercar, which will start at 1.8 million pounds in the UK.