From V12 engines to electric for Aston – now that’s ‘news’
story and Aston obliged.
Aston Martin said that exports from its UK plants (in Gaydon and St Athan) to Japan of its luxury sports cars will be worth over £400 million over the next five years. That’s great news for workers here of course – but I’m not sure it is actually “new” news.
Through its “Second Century Strategy”, the firm aims to double sales by 2022 (and introduce seven new models in seven years).
To do that, it needs to be big in Japan. The latter is the second biggest luxury market in the world so if Aston was not selling this sort of numbers of cars there over the next five years, it would not be hitting its own strategic targets.
Aston Martin also plans to spend more than £70 million over the period in components from Japanese suppliers including Bridgestone, Denso, Mitsubishi and Yazaki.
Aston Martin was careful not to say whether that would be imports from Japan or sourced from Japanese suppliers in the UK (which would generate more jobs here).
The “news” also included a new Aston Martin Japan HQ (again this has been on the cards for a while) and growth of the Aston Martin dealer network across Japan (again needed to generate sales).
What was really new was that the car maker said it would create an “Aston Martin Meta Technology and Luxury Accelerator” office in Japan, to open in 2018.
I was left scratching my head about this but thankfully Mr Palmer helped out : “To ensure we are focused on the needs of Japanese and Asian customers, we are creating a Meta Technology and Luxury Accelerator office in Tokyo, reporting directly to HQ, to develop insights into luxury customer behaviour in Asia.
“This advanced product planning office is being created specifically to tap into research and technologies in the electric and connected car areas as well as the innovations Japan is making in the luxury market.”
So it is about better understanding the luxury market in Japan and accessing new technologies being developed there. The latter includes electric car technology.
That is significant as Aston Martin said only recently that it would go 100 per cent hybrid by the mid2020s, in line with some other car manufacturers (what it means by that is every car in its range will use hybrid technology by then).
It will produce its first electric vehicle, the Rapid-e saloon, in 2019, and Mr Palmer has stated that around a quarter of the firm’s cars will be fully electric by the end of the 2020s.
That is quite a change for a firm famous for its V12 engines.
Yet, instead of buying in electric drivetrains from its partner Daimler, Aston aims to develop them in-house, while buying in electric cells (possibly from Japan).
The firm is undergoing an exciting turnaround under Palmer’s watch after years of losses, aiming to put the firm on a decent footing and attract new investment (I can still see a full Daimler takeover in the future – Aston partners with the latter at present to access technology, buying in V8 engines and electronics).
Last week, the firm upped profit expectations for the year after reporting a £21 million pre-tax profit for the first half of 2017.
The firm’s Second Century Strategy envisages seven new models in seven years, starting with the DB11, then Vantage, Vanquish and DBX, its first SUV.
So, while much of the media focused on the trade and investment “deal” announced by Aston Martin, the big story here, I feel, is its embrace of electrification.
Regardless, hats off to Aston Martin’s PR operation for generating some great publicity despite not saying much new at all. Professor David Bailey works at
the Aston Business School
The big story here, I feel, is Aston Martin’s embrace of electrification over the next few years
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