Next DB9 could be designed to match the Ferrari 599 both in performance and price
Moving Aston Martin further upmarket would see top-sellers like the DB9 and V8 Vantage priced closer to their rivals from Maranello. At the same time production volumes would be lowered in an attempt to free up capacity for the Lagonda models and increase exclusivity.
This is a strategy that other carmakers are considering as the global auto industry restructures and responds to slowing demand and increased environmental and financial concerns. Fewer cars but with higher prices is a strategy Jaguar is also considering adopting as it weathers the industrial storm.
Aston Martin is already establishing some serious upmarket credentials with its upcoming One-77 supercar, which is expected to cost a staggering $1.75 million and limited to a production run of no more than 77 units. Despite recent reports that Aston has attained more than 100 orders for the One-77, an inside source has revealed to AutoWeek that only 25 cars are likely to see production.
As for the DB9 and V8 Vantage, both cars are set to be replaced by 2011 and the new-generation models will have to suffice for at least eight years after their respective launches. The current pair account for almost 90% of Aston’s 7,000 sales in the past 12 months and executives are worried that the current volumes can’t be maintained going into the future. One option might be to move the next Vantage closer to the DB9's pricing and move the DB9 closer to the DBS's $277,000 price level. Ferrari's F430 and 599 GTB, for example, command premiums of about $85,000 over the comparable Vantage V8 and DB9.
Another issue to consider for Aston Martin is the overlapping nature of the DB9 and the V8 Vantage, which are both essentially two-seater front-engined sports cars (not counting the rear seats in the DB9 since these are only for small children). There has been talk of the possibility of replacing both models with a single mid-engined supercar to reduce manufacturing costs and concentrate on other areas such as the upcoming Rapide, although consolidating these two remains unlikely for now.
Aston Martin’s immediate future is to focus on emerging markets such as Russia and China, where customers are more interested in more practical premium four-doors rather than sports cars. The upcoming Rapide will address this issue but, as Bez has pointed out in the past, resurrecting the Lagonda brand is critical.