BIRMINGHAM, England -- Aston Martin will decide on the location of its planned new plant to build the upcoming DBX crossover in the third quarter, CEO Andy Palmer said. The U.S. and the UK were the potential countries under consideration, he said.
Palmer said Alabama in the U.S. is a candidate but other U.S. states had approached Aston Martin to host the new plant.
“We are a relatively small company but there seems to be a great desire to have us building cars in their states or countries,” Palmer told the Automotive News Europe Congress here on Wednesday.
Palmer said last month that Alabama was the “obvious choice” for the factory because it would be close to Daimler's plant in Vance that builds Mercedes-Benz SUVs.
Aston Martin plans to launch its first crossover in 2019 as part of its plans to increase annual vehicle sales to 15,000 from 4,000 last year. The automaker is "landlocked" with no room for growth at its factory in Gaydon, central England, which currently builds all Aston Martins, Palmer said.
Palmer said the crossover will be key to the company’s plan to be consistently profitable. During its 100-year history, Aston went bankrupt seven times, he said. “We need to break out of this cycle of feast and famine. By 2021 Aston Martin will be a sustainable luxury business.”
The UK sports carmaker is cooperating with Mercedes' owner Daimler to expand its engine lineup but Palmer has previously said the crossover is unlikely to be based on a Mercedes platform. Instead it could based on a version of the new sports car architecture.
Palmer told the conference that he meets with Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche one every three months, but said that the German automaker has no interest in raising its stake. Zetsche "has no ambition to take over Aston Martin,” Palmer said.
Daimler has a 5 percent stake in Aston Martin as part of a deal to supply the UK company with high-performance V-8 engines and electronic architectures for its next generation of sports cars, likely to be launched starting next year.
Palmer said Aston Martin has the finance in place to replace its current range of sports cars, as well build the four-door Lagonda Taraf and the crossover. Future financing will come from working capital generated by the increase in sales, he said. “Aston can remain independent and function independently,” Palmer said.