Attention lottery winners and blockchain bros: British luxury brand Aston Martin is engaging in a massive product offensive that will result in an all-new or seriously redesigned vehicle arriving pretty much every year through 2023.
The surge will include Aston Martin’s entry into the SUV market as well as two pure battery-electric vehicles under the Lagonda brand name. It also means a new mid-engine sports car.
In a far-reaching interview at the media introduction of the Vantage in Portugal (driving impressions of which are embargoed until April 10), Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer said that the brand is looking at portfolio expansion as a way to dramatically increase global sales and brand recognition past that of Ferrari.
The expansion into mid-engine sports cars could result in the brand’s traditional front-engine, rear-drive layout going away after the current generation, Palmer said.
Although Aston Martins will retain their classic dimensions—yes, even in SUV form—“we unleashed the designers on Lagonda,” Palmer said.
Make no mistake—Lagonda will be “fully electrified,” as in having only battery-electric propulsion—not hybrids—with development done in-house. Palmer adding that Aston Martin has “help wanted” positions for 400 Lagonda battery propulsion engineers.
“It will not be a compromised platform,” Palmer said. “It will have no tailpipe. We want to do our own cells. We want to master the battery controller.”
By not having the restriction of a powertrain at the front axle, the designers have more freedom to create unique new vehicle designs—as seen with the Lagonda Vision concept shown at the Geneva Motor Show.
Aston’s product roll-out
- 2018 Vantage, DB11 Volante redesigns
- 2018 Vanquish redesign, Vantage roadster
- 2019 DBX SUV intro
- 2021 Mid-engine sports car into
- 2022 Lagonda sedan intro
- 2023 Lagonda SUV intro
Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s chief designer, said that “without the lump of a V-8 or V-12, we can design from the inside out.”
The new lineup also means the withdrawal of the Rapide sedan from the lineup. The Rapide is at the end of its cycle but will fulfill a crucial duty in being transformed into a battery-electric fleet of 155 vehicles to test consumer wants and needs for the upcoming Lagondas.
That said, Aston Martin will still be in the business of building V-12 flagship sports cars, although future V-12s might be hybrid-powered (but not plug-in hybrids, which Palmer sees as inefficient).
In addition to the series production vehicles, Aston Martin will also create two “limited series” vehicles a year, such as the Valkyrie hypercar or design variations with outside coachbuilders like Zagato, Palmer said.
Aston Martin sold 5,100 vehicles in 2017, a 58 percent increase, but Palmer is not satisfied with that volume level. With the home plant in Gaydon, England, soon to be maxed out for capacity building sports cars, Aston Martin is building a new 7,000-unit plant in Wales to account for 4,000 DBXs and 3,000 Lagondas annually. Palmer expects volumes to reach 14,000 units in 2023—which would be nearly double that of Ferrari’s 8,398 sold in 2017.
Although the automaker is in the midst of its heaviest R&D spend in its history, it posted a £207 million EBITDA profit in 2017 on £1.2 billion in revenue. The only previous annual profit in Aston Martin’s 105-year history was in the global boom year of 2007—and that comes with an asterisk as a chunk of Aston’s costs were dispersed throughout then-owner Ford Motor Co.’s larger structure. The automaker also has refinanced its debt, shaving its borrowing rate from 10 percent to 6 percent senior securitized debt, Palmer said.
“The chapter of loss making is done,” Palmer said. “The money is spent. Now we will reap it in.”