LONDON -- Aston Martin plans to restart production next month of its DBX, a model key to the automaker's financial survival.
The DBX will be Aston Martin’s first entry in the high-margin premium SUV segment and could attract more female buyers as sales its core sports-car models slump. Deliveries to customers will start in the summer.
DBX output will resume on May 5 at the company’s new factory in St. Athan, Wales, Aston Martin said on Thursday. Sports-car production will restart later at its core plant in Gaydon, England. Aston Martin did not name a date for the Gaydon restart.
The two plants, the automaker’s only factories, were closed after the British government imposed restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The majority of its employees are furloughed, and those who continue to be laid off from May 1 will get 80 percent of their base salaries from next month.
The decision to restart production was made in consultation with unions and employees to ensure the safety of staff, Aston Martin said in a statement. It also said it was working closely with suppliers to make sure sufficient parts are available.
Aston Martin’s new chairman, Canadian billionaire and Formula One team owner, Lawrence Stroll, will draw a nominal salary of 1 British pound ($1.23) a year as part of executive pay cuts.
CEO Andy Palmer will take a 35 percent cut of his base salary after foregoing his bonus for 2020. Other members of senior management have been asked to voluntarily accept a 5 percent to 10 percent cut to their base salary depending on level for at least three months.
In an interview earlier this month Stroll said Aston Martin’s most pressing objective is to plan to restart manufacturing operations, particularly production of the DBX.
Stroll has said he wants the company to focus on high-value models such as the DBX, which starts at 158,055 pounds in its UK home market, and low-volume special edition cars in a bid to stabilize the company’s finances.
Stroll has been instrumental in resetting Aston Martin’s business plan after group he controls invested 500 million pounds ($656 million) in the automaker in February.
Plans to revive the luxury Lagonda name as a stand-alone electric brand that Aston had pitched as a futuristic rival to Rolls-Royce have been put on hold.
Aston Martin also dropped plans to lift its annual production to 14,000 vehicles by 2023. The company’s wholesale volumes for 2019 were 5,809.
Reuters contributed to this report