Cash strapped Ford has confirmed that it will sell the star of the Premier Automotive Group, Aston Martin. For the first time since the 1960s, Aston Martin managed to turn a profit and is now tipped to release several new models, which will take its sales up another notch. CEO Ulrich Bez is so confident of the brand that he’s rumored to be personally leading a consortium intent on purchasing the label, and will remain as head of the company.
The auto industry constantly praises Renualt Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn for the billion-dollar turnaround of Nissan but we rarely hear of Bez’s success with Aston Martin. Since his instalment in 2000, he has expanded the brand globally and is currently working on plans to move into Russia and China. Aston Martin, under Bez’s guidance, has seen sales rise from a paltry 300 cars a year to over 5,000 this past year and an expected 6,500 for the coming year. Bez said that five years ago the cars were bought by “a few car freaks” with 80 percent of them sold in England.
The news is not all good. The former Porsche exec sees a storm rising in the form of the Chinese automakers. In five years' time, Bez predicts that the car industry will be flooded with cheap imports, which will cuase the existing European manufacturers to cut massive staff numbers. To remain successful, Aston Martin will have to focus on remaining a niche product in markets where the Chinese cannot follow.
This means that Aston Martin must continue to build beautiful cars with distinctive character and always remain understated. Bez says that Ferraris are “too loud”, Bentleys “too big”, and Porsches “mass produced”. "An Aston appeals to wealthy buyers who want the sports performance and exclusivity of an Italian sports car, but with a touch of English understatement." If there’s anyone who can maintain the success that Aston is currently enjoying, it has to be Dr Ulrich Bez.