As it enters its 103rd year, British automaker Aston Martin is embarking on the largest product investment in its history. New CEO Andy Palmer calls it the Second Century plan, and it’s likely to kick off with the introduction of the new DB11 grand tourer at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show next March.
Aston Martin has confirmed that the DB11 will replace the DB9 and will arrive on the market during 2016. While the company hasn’t announced timing for the debut, Geneva is notorious for its luxury and supercar announcements from European brands, so an unveiling at the Swiss show is a virtual certainty.
The DB11 will be based on an all-new architecture, and once it arrives the rest of the sports car lineup is scheduled be completely redesigned by the end of 2020. If the lineup follows the cadence of the current models, the next cars to be redesigned will be the V8 Vantage coupe and convertible in 2018, followed shortly thereafter by the V12 Vantage and the Rapide, and finally the line-topping Vanquish, though it's not clear if the Rapide will be renewed or replaced by a more conventional luxury sedan (more on that model on the next page).
2017 Aston Martin DB11 (DB9 replacement) spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
The current Aston Martin architecture utilizes a bonded aluminum structure with an alloy torque tube running down the middle. The engines are mounted in a front midship layout. Aston Martin isn’t saying anything about the next architecture, but it could include some carbon fiber like Vanquish, which has carbon fiber body panels and a carbon fiber structure behind the rear wheels.
Aston Martin has confirmed that V-12 engines will be part of the lineup in the foreseeable future. “The V-12 is synonymous with Aston Martin and we want to keep it as the heart of the brand as long as possible. To do that, we’ll introduce zero emissions vehicles,” said Aston Martin PR and brand communications manager Matthew Clarke.
An electric version of the current Rapide is scheduled for 2017 and the production version of the DBX, a concept unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, promises to offer electric power as well. A raised coupe/crossover with all-wheel drive, the DBX will be available before the end of 2020.
Aston Martin DBX Concept
V-8 engines will also continue, but not in their present form. The company’s current 4.7-liter V-8 will give way to Mercedes-AMG twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8s from corporate partner Daimler. Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, owns a five percent share in Aston Martin.
The Second Century plan calls for Aston Martin to increase yearly annual sales of its sports cars from 4,000 to 7,000 units over the next seven years, and aims for profitability for the first time in a long time. As recently as 1992, Aston Martin sold a total of 46 cars, and the company declared bankruptcy seven times in its first 100 years. Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] took ownership in 1994 and helped Aston gain legitimacy after operating as, in Clarke’s words, a cottage industry. “We wouldn’t be here without Ford’s ownership. They were great owners,” said Clarke.
Ford sold Aston Martin for $925 million in 2007 to a consortium comprised of David Richards, John Sinders, Investment Dar, and Adeem Investment Co. In 2013, Investindustrial sunk another $233 million into the company, taking on a 37.5 percent ownership stake. The goal now is to turn Aston Martin into a self-sustained independent car company.
Aston Martin Lagonda Taraf
In addition to the sports cars, Aston Martin will offer the aforementioned DBX and a sedan, both of which promise incremental sales above that 7,000 figure. Aston Martin recently introduced the Lagonda Taraf sedan in the Middle East and the United Kingdom and a few other markets. While that sedan is limited to just 200 units, another sedan is planned and it could carry the Lagonda name.
Aston Martin will also continue to make bespoke products and offer custom colors and trims through its Q Advanced Operations arm. Paint and trim are offered through Q Collections, while Q Commissions includes cars like the Vulcan and the DB10.
The Vulcan is an 800-plus horsepower coupe with a carbon fiber monocoque that is only legal for the racetrack. It carries a price of $2.4 million and only 24 will be built. All 24 are already sold.
Aston Martin built ten DB10s for the new James Bond movie Spectre. Somewhere between a concept car and a customized production car, the DB10 is based on the Vantage S chassis and features bodywork that likely points to the design direction of the brand. All ten of those cars are owned by the movie studio or Aston Martin and only one will wind up in the hands of a private citizen. That car will be auctioned next year.