The first half of 2020 should have been a stand-out time for Aston Martin Lagonda, following the opening of a new factory and the arrival of the company’s first SUV. Instead, sales took a dive in almost all markets, the share price collapsed and Andy Palmer was replaced as CEO. New boss Tobias Moers has much to do but at least in terms of future models, there is much in the works.
Many are the sceptics who wonder how long Aston Martin can last as they point out the number of times the firm has been bankrupt.
Will Aston survive, let alone thrive? Though the odds don’t look too good, what kills financially distressed companies isn’t hard times but a lack of cash. AML has money, at least, and some rich backers. Crucially, they seem to be keeping the faith. Perhaps their belief is that if and when the economies of countries where the brand formerly did well turn positive again, then so too will the finances of this boutique luxury car maker.
In Aston’s favour, the model range is just about the freshest it has ever been but there is no denying the fact that the current rate of worldwide sales is nowhere near enough to generate the necessary cash for the cars and low or zero emissions powertrains which will be needed fairly soon.
Questions remain over how a move to electrification will be funded. Still, there are possibilities which look realistic. That topic could also be key to working out why a man who appeared to be on a trajectory to the top of Daimler AG has instead just taken on the job of fixing AML.
Might it be that the German giant plans to lift its holding from the current five per cent to majority control, but not until it assesses whether or not one of its former rising stars has been able to set the company on the path to Ferrari-level profits? If that’s the plan then the basics are already in place, starting with highly rated cars and now, an SUV too.
More than half a decade on from when we first saw the DBX concept at the 2015 Geneva motor show, production of the first SUV in the history of the Aston Martin marque has begun. The company says the order bank is strong and has particular hopes for China, a market that seems to be rapidly shaking off the deep and sudden downturn of earlier this year.
The DBX is the first vehicle for AML’s St Athan plant in South Wales, series production having commenced on 9 July. It uses a bespoke architecture and for now at least, the only engine is a modified AMG 4.0-litre biturbo V8 with outputs of 550 PS and 700 Nm. Drive goes to both axles via a nine-speed torque converter automatic gearbox.
A V12 sourced from Ford Werke in Cologne as well as Aston’s own TM-01 V6 (see below) could potentially be added at a later date, along with other low-emissions electrified options courtesy of Mercedes-AMG.
Another potential way of bringing AML back into profit would be creating a second SUV. The ‘DBY‘ would be based on the DBX but have either a longer body in the style of the BMW X7 or be a coupe-SUV along the lines of the X6. If this project gets the green light, it could in production by 2023/2024.
Next out of the blocks this year should be the Valkyrie, a low volume, hyper-priced hypercar. Announced four years ago, the car started off as a collaboration with the ex-McLaren and Red Bull Formula 1 team engineer Adrian Newey. A total of “between 99 and 150” road cars will be built, AML says, as well as 25 track cars.
Multimatic, which manufactures the Ford GT, will supply the carbon monocell, Cosworth will be the source of the 6.5-litre V12, and a seven-speed transmission will come from Ricardo. The normally aspirated engine’s outputs are claimed to be 1000 hp and 740 Nm (545 lb ft), while it will rev to 11,200 rpm. Combined with the motor, power rises to a claimed 1,160 hp with torque of 900 Nm.
Rimac will supply the lightweight hybrid battery system; Robert Bosch will be the source of the ECU, traction control and electronic stability program systems; while Wipac is responsible for the LED headlamps and tail lamps.
The Valkyrie is expected to weigh just 1,030 kg. Production had been due to commence in July but it won’t now start until the fourth quarter.
A post-Valkyrie hypercar would be launched in 2021, the company stated in September 2018, with the model name, Valhalla, confirmed in June 2019. That was three months after a preview concept called AM-RB 003 was revealed at the Geneva motor show.
Under the direction of the new CEO, this car might now be delayed until 2022 as tweaks are made to bring down costs and find ways of boosting potential profits.
The company has said that it intends to build 500 units of this mid-engined coupe, “built around a lightweight structure and powered by a turbocharged petrol-electric hybrid engine”. Both right- and left-hand drive cars will be available and the engine will be a 3.0-litre V6 of Aston’s own design. While no specifics of what kind of hybrid system it means, the company says “the full powertrain will be electrified”.
The Valhalla’s engine is called ‘TM-01’ and named after Tadek Marek (“celebrating Aston Martin’s illustrious engineer of the 50s and 60s”, the company says). This, Aston boasts, will be its first self-developed engine since 1968.
Six to twelve months after the arrival of the Valhalla should come the production version of project AM9. Aimed at the Ferrari F8 Tributo and looking like the Vanquish Vision concept from last year’s Geneva show, the new Vanquish should be powered by a detuned TM-01 V6. The previous Vanquish S went out of production in February 2018 and was replaced by the DBS Superleggera.
Reports for many other manufacturers’ future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.
Future platform intelligence
More detail on past, current and forthcoming models can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of GlobalData’s Automotive Intelligence Center. That includes Aston Martin vehicles not reported on above.
The next OEM to have its future model plans looked at will be General Motors (including SAIC GM Wuling). The list of brands includes Baojun, Wuling, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer, Buick and Cadillac.