Few automakers can claim a history as boundless as Aston Martin. The company’s been building cars for over a century and though throughout that history the iconic marque has seen ups, downs, bankruptcies, owners come and go, and nearly the death of the brand as it languished under Ford, it has in typical British fashion, carried on. With the passing its centenary, Aston Martin’s CEO Dr. Andy Palmer has initiated the second act in his vision of revitalization. However, Palmer isn’t looking at making the company just profitable, but to secure Aston Martin’s true global powerhouse status — something it should have always been.
CEO Dr. Andy Palmer is looking to secure Aston Martin’s true global powerhouse status — something it should have always been.
Aston Martin’s recent history is one punctuated by bite-the-back-of-your-hand beautiful machines that failed to live up to their beauty both in terms of performance and reliability. Customers would purchase a V12 Vantage or DB9 and before they’d even have a chance to enjoy the car, it’d fail in either spectacular fashion, or die an ignominious death thanks to shoddy leftover Ford parts. Aston’s failed to live up to their hype and price tags. And while the iconic marque always tried its best with the tools and parts it had to work with, the likes of Porsche, Ferrari and others left those cars in the dust. That, however, has changed.
Aston Martin’s rebirth is thanks to the decisive action in its Second Century Plan (SCP) — a three-fold strategy that’s aimed at ensuring its survival for the next hundred years — its sale to a consortium of investors in 2007 and Palmer taking the company public, all of which have given the company the resources to restructure, retool, and reinvest to the point that it posted a profit for the first time in nearly five or so decades. But it’s Palmer’s SCP which emphasizes Stabilization, Core Strengthening, and Portfolio Expansion that has truly transformed the once-beleaguered automaker.
Aston Martin’s rebirth is thanks to the decisive action in its Second Century Plan (SCP), a three-fold strategy that’s aimed at ensuring its survival for the next hundred years.
Stabilization occurred when the brand made some tough decisions early on and cut a good portion of its staff after its departure from Ford. It then started courting technical partners that’d help build sports cars and grand tourers worthy of the Aston Martin name as to strengthen its core products. This included finding partners in Red Bull Racing’s Adrian Newey, a technical partnership with Mercedes-AMG that saw Aston Martin receive AMG-sourced twin-turbocharged V8 engines and tapping engineers like Matt Becker, who was Lotus’ former dynamics engineer. All of this has culminated in the brand’s best lineup ever, a lineup of cars that it can’t build fast enough.
Aston Martin then began expanding once again, hiring more workers, pushing its growth in terms of space in Gaydon and finding a second facility in St. Athan, Wales where a host of new Aston Martins will be built. Aston Martin further expanded its heritage coachwork and restoration abilities. Because of those milestones, the SCP’s final edict has been put in the spotlight and it too seems to have come to fruition.
This year, at the Geneva Motor Show, Aston Martin surprised the press by showing off not one, but two nearly ready for production vehicles, a production-prototype and a luxury concept that’ll likely see production in the near future. What it showed was the production-prototype of the forthcoming Valkyrie hypercar, the mid-engined AM-RB 003 supercar with an all-new turbocharged V6 hybrid setup, a concept Vanquish that looks ready to take on Ferrari and Lamborghini, and an SUV Lagonda concept. These would slot into Aston’s already sizeable lineup, which includes the Vantage, DB11, DB11 V8, DBS, the almost-ready and monumentally important DBX SUV and close-enough-to-touch Valkyrie.
There are, however, naysayers, prophets of doom, and a small contingent of press that claim to have heard this song and dance before. And indeed, Aston Martin has had a few rebirths in its past. Those, though, haven’t come at the direction of Palmer. The CEO has taken a brand with a country’s worth of cache and brought it into the 21st century to challenge the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Bentley. Customers no longer have to choose beauty over reliability. With a new Aston Martin, they can have both.
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