Fledg­ling propo­si­tion

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By MARK HINCH­LIFFE

PRES­TIGE com­mut­ing could be com­ing to Aus­tralia. As­ton Martin has been cer­ti­fy­ing its Cygnet small car for use in Aus­tralia, but has not yet de­cided whether to sell it here.

Mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager for Asi­aPa­cific Mar­cel Fabris says they are re­search­ing to ‘‘as­cer­tain vol­ume and vi­a­bil­ity in the mar­ket’’.

If it was sold here it would cost be­tween $60,000-$70,000 he says.

‘‘We are work­ing for­wards with it and it is al­most cer­ti­fied for use there,’’ says Fabris, who is based in China.

‘‘We’ve been do­ing all the back-end en­gi­neer­ing side of things. It’s just a mat­ter of de­cid­ing if the Aus­tralian pub­lic want that type of prod­uct at this stage.’’

The 1.3-litre, four­cylin­der Cygnet is a far cry from some of the V12 sports cars the English man­u­fac­turer builds, such as the Za­gato, which starts pro­duc­tion later this year and will be as much as $900,000.

The Cygnet was launched two years ago in the UK and Europe, and last year in Hong Kong and Ja­pan, where Fabris says it is ‘‘very suc­cess­ful’’.

‘‘We are now eval­u­at­ing the po­ten­tial for other mar­kets,’’ he says.

‘‘There is a real rea­son and pur­pose for this car in those coun­tries where there is a lot of traf­fic con­ges­tion, lim­ited park­ing, plenty of wealth and peo­ple like to drive a nice car.

‘‘There is also the el­e­ment of look­ing af­ter the en­vi­ron­ment and a lot of peo­ple in that end of the mar­ket are en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious.

‘‘In Aus­tralia there are wealthy peo­ple who are en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious, but you don’t have the chal­lenges with con­ges­tion and park­ing; there are park­ing bays drawn on the ground.

‘‘In th­ese other coun­tries they try to jam in as many as they can.

‘‘There is no real ne­ces­sity for the car here. In those other coun­tries it’s a de­ci­sion of the brain, but in Aus­tralia it would be a purely emo­tional pur­chase.’’

More suit­able and likely for Aus­tralia would be the As­ton Martin Lagonda.

While Fabris would not comment on the con­cept SUV go­ing into pro­duc­tion, it is be­lieved the com­pany is se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing it.

‘‘It would be more ap­pro­pri­ate in Aus­tralia, the US, the Mid­dle East and China, where they like big cars and have plenty of room, and fuel is not ridicu­lously ex­pen­sive,’’ he says.

‘‘When the con­cept was first shown there was only the Range Rover Evoque, but now we’ve got Bent­ley (EXP 9F), Maserati (Kubang) and Lam­borgh­ini (Urus) with SUV projects, so that’s a tes­ta­ment to the fact that we are not the only ones who think there is a mar­ket for a lux­ury SUV.’’

Fabris says the ve­hi­cle would cost ‘‘around $400,000-plus’’ in Aus­tralia.

Price would not ex­clude it from Aus­tralia as one mys­tery buyer re­cently forked out about $2.5 mil­lion for the only One-77 two-door coupe com­ing to Aus­tralia.

Fabris says that de­spite ‘‘the worst global eco­nomic con­di­tions for some time’’, the com­pany had still been able to sell all 77 of the world’s most ex­pen­sive pro­duc­tion car.

As­ton Martin last year sold about 4200 cars world­wide and 101 in Aus­tralia, back from a global peak of 7500 in 2007 and 160 here.

‘‘We have seen sales pul- led back, but our busi­ness is very flex­i­ble,’’ Fabris says.

‘‘At the cur­rent num­ber we are still prof­itable and run­ning a sound busi­ness, but ob­vi­ously not as many as we’d like. How­ever, we are still able to tip money into prod­uct de­vel­op­ment.’’

It is be­lieved As­ton Martin will not only be­gin mak­ing the Za­gato later this year and soon af­ter that the SUV Lagonda, but will also update its DBS and DB9.

As­ton Martin ve­hi­cles are im­ported in­di­vid­u­ally into Aus­tralia by each of the deal­ers in Sydney, Mel­bourne, Ade­laide, Perth and on the Gold Coast.

The As­ton Martin Cygnet is be­ing cer­ti­fied for use in Aus­tralia, but the com­pany has not made a de­ci­sion on whether to sell it here

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