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You can stop wondering which brand in Ford's Premier Auto Group will be the first to go. It's Aston Martin. Though speculation had pointed to a possible sale of Jaguar and/or Land Rover, in a statement Ford indicates that Aston Martin makes the most sense because it has a completely separate dealer network, its products share few parts with other Ford brands and its size is much smaller than other members of PAG. Ford will be looking to sell either all or a portion of Aston Martin, supposedly whatever it can get for a good price while ensuring that the James Bond brand finds a happy home. As this process has just begun, no buyers have stepped forward and expressed interest.

Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover aren't in the clear yet, however. As to their future, Bill Ford says, "we've made no decisions, as our review of strategic alternatives continues."

Is this the right move? Aston Martin is arguably better off today than it was when Ford purchased it in the late Nineties, so there's definitely some equity in the brand that the Blue Oval feels it can collect. Keep in mind this announcement doesn't guarantee anyone's interested in purchasing Aston Martin or that a transaction will take place, but the For Sale sign has been staked in the front yard and Bill Ford's waiting inside with lemonade and cookies for prospective buyers.

[Source: Ford]


DEARBORN, Mich., August 31, 2006 – Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) announced today it has begun the process of exploring strategic options for Aston Martin, with particular emphasis on a potential sale of all or a portion of the unit.

"As part of our ongoing strategic review, we have determined that Aston Martin may be an attractive opportunity to raise capital and generate value," said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Ford. "Aston Martin Lagonda has flourished under Ford ownership, which is why we believe it is prudent to consider a sale of all or part of this prized brand. Since Aston Martin's dealer network, product architecture and size are distinctly different from other Ford brands, it is the most logical and capital-smart divestiture choice. The objective of any sale would be to position Aston Martin within a structure and resource base sufficient to allow it to reach its full potential, while enabling Ford to efficiently raise capital for its other brands."

Mr. Ford added, "Regarding our other Premier Automotive Group brands, we've made no decisions, as our review of strategic alternatives continues. However, we continue to be encouraged by Jaguar's progress and by the strength and consumer appeal of the Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo product lineups."

The company said there can be no assurance that the decision to explore strategic options for Aston Martin will result in any transaction, which would be subject to Board approval. Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures and distributes automobiles in 200 markets across six continents. With about 300,000 employees and more than 100 plants worldwide, the company's core and affiliated automotive brands include Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo. Its automotive-related services include Ford Motor Credit Company.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Step Three: MAZDA
      1. Ford should buy out MAZDA completely. Mazda should be designing all small Ford cars."

      Sorry guys, Japanese law forbids outside companies from owning more than what Ford currently owns of Mazda. They protect their automakers.
      • 8 Years Ago
      They can't sell Volvo or their Mazda stake because they provide the platforms for every unibody Ford car and suv, so I guess they'll have to stick it to the Brits. Too bad that those are the brands that they've put the most work into, and had the most successful turnarounds with. Sucks to be poor.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Proton in Malaysia should but it.

      They've done wonders with Lotus, keeping the Britishness intact and expanding their engineering resources. They might be a good parent for Aston too -- sharing resources between Lotus and Aston could be brilliant.

      Aston doesnt compete where Lotus does, and no Lotus supercar will ever be mistaken for an Aston product. Anyone else see the logic in that pairing?
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree with the comment get rid of all the Brits and keep Volvo.

      and shoot Mercury .. wonder if they could pair Lincoln with Mazda for the dealers that need volume.

      couple of more vehicles like the Edge and they'll be back on a roll
      • 8 Years Ago
      Finally, a decision that indicates The Way Forward is making the right moves.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Well...let me get my checkbook out.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ford is Selling High...
      • 8 Years Ago
      Damn, I bet this shuts down their racing program.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Agreed with #11.

      My suggestion to Ford would be to get rid of PAG except for Volvo. Then shoot Mercury.

      With Ford-Volvo-Mazda, they have the ability to be a very focused & leaner company providing

      - value (Ford)

      - Euro-spec lux/safety (Volvo)

      - sport/looks (Mazda)

      They can keep Lincoln just for 3-4 all-exclusive vehicles for the Hamptons crowd.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ford has an image problem.
      But it also also the right products to resolve that dilemma.
      The problem then is to restructure Ford to enhance the value of the company overall.

      Step One: DEALERSHIPS
      1. Reduce the number of dealerships in America into a SINGLE network of 3000 outlets rather than the current 4300.

      Step Two: PRODUCT LINE
      1. VOLVO should be positioned as the FWD/AWD car manufacturer for Ford. That would improve the public image of Ford immensley.
      2. FORD should return to the glory days of RWD cars and trucks. Mercedes styling would fit nicely here.
      Mustang should be the only carry-over from the current line-up. Mercury, which is a redundant and dying brand, should be dumped.
      3. JAGUAR should shove Lincoln out the door. Lincoln is a tarnished brand that will take billions to retrofit.
      4. RANGE ROVER, Land Rover, Discovery, Freelander should be rebranded as Ford models. Dump the current aging line-up of Lincoln/Ford SUVs altogether. Concentrate on what enhances the company image more.
      5. ASTON MARTIN should remain as the Ford supercar.

      Step Three: MAZDA
      1. Ford should buy out MAZDA completely. Mazda should be designing all small Ford cars.

      This much simplified manufacturing and distribution system would not only save billions for Ford, but bring in much needed new revenue for future product development.

      Ford would benefit greatly from a more lean and mean upscale public image.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Correct me if i am wrong; but i think the aston martin racing program is run by prodrive, not a factory supported team.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Lotus is a major auto consulting company, Proton owning Aston could likely create conflicts with consulting clients. Their cars serve largely as an advertisement for their consulting business. Hyundai could use the advanced Aston electronic and aluminum structure technology, and definitely won't have product overlap, but I don't know if they can afford it. At the right price Toyota is going to be really tempted to abandon tradition and become an acquirer of some of these luxury brands.
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