Aston Martin, which has seen its share price plunge this year as sales failed to meet expectations after a stock market flotation, launched its first sport utility vehicle on Wednesday, hoping for a turnaround in fortunes.
The sports car maker, famed for being fictional agent James Bond’s car of choice, has gone bankrupt seven times in its 106-year history and has had multiple owners over the last century including Ford.
Now largely owned by Kuwaiti and Italian private equity groups, Aston listed in October last year at £19 (€22) per share but that has since plunged by around 75 per cent, hit most recently by falling demand in Europe and for its Vantage model.
The company, which reported a pre-tax loss of £92 million in the first nine months of the year, has ploughed money into a new factory in Wales which will build the new DBX SUV model from next year.
“We’re essentially holding the cost of a complete factory right now without the benefit of the revenues coming in ... so from that point of view of course it’s a really important model,” chief executive Andy Palmer told Reuters earlier this month.
Aston hopes to encourage more women buyers with its new offering and has received input from a female advisory body on the choice of certain features such as separate central arm rests and the design of the glovebox.
The €170,000 DBX, one of the last luxury-brand SUV models to hit the market, jumps into a race of automakers intending to capitalize on buyers’ seemingly endless appetite for powerful and expensive SUVs, especially in China and the U.S.
It will compete against Bentley’s $165,000 (€149,000) Bentayga and Rolls-Royce’s $325,000 Cullinan on the high-end side; on the sportier side, Lamborghini’s $200,000 Urus and Porsche’s $126,500 Cayenne Turbo.
The first trial build of the DBX has been completed with production due in the second quarter of 2020 which the company hopes will contribute to a boost to its output, alongside sports cars made at its southern English Gaydon facility.
“If our volumes are slightly north of 6,000 this year, obviously you’re adding another ultimately 4 or 5,000 so it’s a big chunk of volume for us,” said Mr Palmer.