In Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers, Aston Martin Chairman Lewis Stroll hopes he has found an executive with a proven track record of expanding an automotive business who can bring that magic to the UK brand.
The signs are good. Moers has done a stellar job expanding the highly profitable AMG unit performance car business for parent Mercedes-Benz. When he took over, AMG volume was 32,000 cars and he wanted to double sales within four years. Not only did the executive expand volumes by 12 percent in a sluggish 2019 market, he reached a record 132,136 cars, quadrupling its footprint.
To do so, he has used the same blueprint pioneered so successfully by Mercedes -- move down market and fill every conceivable niche without diluting the brand's DNA.
AMG is something of a proving ground for executives: Moers inherited the post in October 2013 from none other than current Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius. The Swede used his more than three years at AMG headquarters in Affalterbach as a springboard to running sales and marketing for the entire Mercedes brand.
Moers is also acutely aware of Aston's problems. As payment in kind for supplying the UK automaker with AMG's signature V-8 engines, each built individually by hand, parent Daimler gained a 5 percent stake back in 2013
Thus far, like all Aston investors, it has only been a money-losing enterprise. Last year the German automaker was forced to book a 200 million-euro-plus writedown on the value of its holding due to a sharp fall in the stock price.
Turning around Aston is no small effort and if the make-or-break DBX SUV that Palmer gifts him as a going-away present is not a model that captures hearts, minds and pocketbooks, Moer has got problems. The company's investment story hinges on Aston's first SUV smashing records. Only then can it fund a new phase of growth.
If Moers does succeed, he might even convince Kallenius to expand Daimler's equity interest whenever the Stroll consortium exits.
Under Zetsche this would have been unthinkable, but his successor might be tempted given the right mix of risk and reward. Daimler could help fulfill the Aston's now shelved plan for a battery-electric Lagonda SUV using the dedicated Mercedes EVA2 architecture under development.
With just 5,600 cars sold last year Aston is far too small to solve Mercedes' scale problems, so strategically it would not solve any pressing issues. But that does not mean savings can't be made.
BMW's deal with Jaguar Land Rover to use the German automaker's fifth generation eDrive technology as the powerplant for EVs demonstrates every additional shoulder to bear development costs can count.
Financially it could prove attractive in the long run and Kallenius has in Moers an executive he can trust.
To borrow a phrase from Mercedes's neighbor Porsche, the last car built in the UK, home of the first ever Formula 1 race, will be a sports car.
Why not bet it will be an Aston?