ASTON MARTIN REACHES INFLECTION POINT
Big changes at Aston Martin - 2013 and 2014 have finally seen the big apex point in the company's resurgent modern history.
Ulrich Bez has stepped aside from some of his all-controlling ways, huge chunks of equity have been sold to investment firms, and a broad partnership with Daimler Benz means Aston finally has some big-company resources to utilize once again.
For as much-maligned as Ford was during their stewardship of the brand, Ford was a wonderfully generous partner to Aston-Martin during the many, many years that it took losses on the balance sheets.
In fact, Aston Martin bled hundreds of millions of dollars between 1990 and 2001 or so, when it only started a real revenue curve with the launch of the Vanquish and the DB9. Long story short, Ford was around for more lean years than fat years.
Aston Martin heavily depended on Ford for the things small companies cannot do in-house. Things like seatbelts, wiring looms, crash testing and good AC compressors. These are things where a giant company can bring huge value to a small player.
DREAM BIG. BUT STAY GROUNDED?
Aston Martin has always dreamed bigger than just its niche sportscar and GT car businesses. But stretch a wire that is already taut, and it risks whipping you back in the eye.
Such was the big loot poured into the first-gen Rapide. The car was conceived in boom years, and even secured its own factory in Austria to construct perhaps 15,000 of the cars annually with pricing we hoped would be about $120,000 when it launched in 2008, about two years after the first show cars.
When it did arrive, it was twice that price - and half as useful as a true limousine. Though the current Rapide S is a far better car than the first ones off the line -- the four-door dream nearly bankrupted Aston Martin. Sales were not forthcoming as the car launched into the global financial crisis, and production was moved back to England to be built in super-small volumes on the regular DB9 production line.
Again. The first 1970s Lagonda was a similar let-down in many ways for the company.
HOW WILL THE NEW RAPIDE AVOID THIS FATE?
The new Rapide will avoid the same fate by taking better account of reality before starting to dream so big. Instead of building the luxury car atop the dedicated alloy frame of the DB9, the next car is likely to share much of its undertray with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class or S-Class sedans.
This is the same strategy employed to great success by Rolls-Royce in the Ghost, and Bentley in the Flying Spur.
A giant AMG V8 will step in for the Aston V12 - and sophisticated electronics will come easily to Aston once again thanks to Mercedes-Benz economies of scale.
The truth is - you might lament this turn of events. But you should not.
2014 Aston Martin Rapide S - Geneva 2014
This is a perfectly legitimate way to bring profitable and market-ready luxury cars to showrooms worldwide. Quickly and efficiently.
Aston Martin will always be doggedly ambitious. That is one of the traits we love about the plucky Brit.
But by collaborating, the olde English bulldog might make buyers - and shareholders - much happier in the process via better cars sold more briskly.
PRODUCE (NEW PRODUCTS), OR PERISH
So, all that is left is the name. Rapide or Lagonda? Lagonda Vignale?
Or Something from the back catalog? Or Something new and global?
- Lutz Valdeig did these designs. And the car will run an AMG V8.
- Let's call it the LV8.
Elevate. LV = Lagonda Vignale.
Has a nice ring to it. And logic as well.
2016 Aston Martin LV8 - Lagonda Vignale by Lutz Valdeig
Special Thanks to Lutz Valdeig - look for more of his work soon on Car-Revs-Daily.com =]