Next year, with Chinese partner GruppeM, Aston Martin will take its first steps into China with a 5-car showroom in Shanghai, and a 3-car showroom in Beijing. Aston hasn't had a presence in China in the company's entire 94-year history, so to accompany its entry, it is also starting a 1-make series featuring the Vantage N24. The inaugural 2008 Aston Martin Asia Cup will comprise 12 races in China, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore. Grids will be 18 specially-prepared customer cars and will run from 30 minute sprints to enduros.
Buyers can pick their cars up at the Beijing showroom, and even get lessons at the Goldenport track before they start racing. Even better, UK-based Aston Martin Racing is providing technical support for the season, although drivers can enter with their own teams if they get approval. The winner of the 2008 series will get a paid-for drive in a Vantage N24 for the FIA GT4 series in 2009, which is much better than a trophy anyway.
Aston Martin arrives in China
The expansion of Aston Martin's global dealership network is all set to continue with a move into China for the first time in the company's 94-year history. The Aston Martin franchise has been awarded to GruppeM, led by CEO Kenny Chen, who has unparalleled experience of the luxury sports car market in China.
The first new showroom will be in Shanghai's Xin Tian Di District, with an area designed to accommodate five cars. The Shanghai Aston Martin Retail Centre will be the country's flagship dealer space. There will also be an exclusive Aston Martin service facility located close to Hongqiao airport.
In Beijing, a showroom for three cars will be located in the city's Central Business District, a fast-expanding area that contains some dramatic new architecture. The showroom will be accompanied by the Aston Martin Beijing Service Facility, located at the city's Goldenport race circuit.
The market for luxury goods in China was worth $6bn in 2004, and has developed rapidly since. However, Dr Ulrich Bez, Aston Martin's Chief Executive Officer, explained that it was important to wait until the right partner was found. "Aston Martin has been carefully monitoring the growth of the luxury sports car market in China," he said, "but it was vital that we found the right partner who not only understood Aston Martin's brand values but also the luxury market. We are confident that GruppeM have the expertise and knowledge to help us develop Aston Martin in China."
Aston Martin is well placed for the emerging generation of young, aspirational Chinese consumers, who seek reliable, recognised brands that also have a forward-looking, innovative image. Casino Royale, featuring the recently launched Aston Martin DBS, was the first James Bond film to be released throughout China, and brand awareness is correspondingly high. Seen for the first time in the film, the DBS is the ultimate expression of Aston Martin's engineering and technical ability. It offers pure performance without compromise. It delivers the complete driving experience and bridges the gap between the road and track cars – the DB9 and DBR9.
The company's global dealership programme features an award-winning series of designs inspired by Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion. Aston Martin currently has 120 dealers in 28 countries around the world and in addition to Shanghai and Beijing, recent openings include Cape Town and Bordeaux.
Kenny Chen, GruppeM Chief Executive Officer, said of the appointment: "We feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to represent Aston Martin in China during this exciting time in the company's history. I have always had a passion for the brand which, combined with our knowledge of the luxury automobile market, will enable us to bring a very personal touch to the business."
GruppeM has also invested heavily in racing in the region and has recently launched an exclusive members-only organisation, G1 Club, aimed at sports car enthusiasts interested in experiencing a broad collection of high-performance cars. G1 Club will also be introducing the idea of the Track Day to China, arranging venues and publicity for racing enthusiasts to experience their own car on a real circuit.
New Aston Martin race series for Asia in 2008
Aston Martin is launching an exciting new one-make race series for Asia. This follows the announcement of two new Aston Martin dealerships in Shanghai and Beijing.
Called the Aston Martin Asia Cup (AMAC), the series starts in 2008 and will consist of 12 races throughout the Asia Pacific region including China, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. Each race will feature a grid of 18 Aston Martin Vantage N24s, a 4.3 litre race-developed evolution of the V8 Vantage which has been proven in endurance and sprint races in Europe and the Middle East.
The AMAC will include a variety of 30 minute sprint races and longer endurance races, some of which will support Formula One events in the region. The series will provide a stable, well-regulated racing environment with competitive racing in equal equipment provided by the series' organisers. Competitors will be able to 'arrive and drive' thanks to a comprehensive service package which includes: engineers and technicians, logistical support, hospitality and accommodation, race entry, and a comprehensive spare parts package. Drivers may be able to enter with their own teams, subject to approval by the series organisers.
Dr Ulrich Bez, Chief Executive Officer, Aston Martin said: "When we announced plans to build the Vantage N24 for customers in 2006 we were very confident it would make a great choice for a one-make series. I am delighted that we are able to announce the Aston Martin Asia Cup for 2008, it will help greatly in communicating our brand values, performance, and product durability in this exciting new market."
The Vantage N24 is built to international FIA GT4 regulations by Aston Martin Racing in the UK, who will also provide technical support for the series. The car has a V8 engine producing 410 bhp and weighs just 1350 kg. The 18 AMAC cars have the latest automated manual Sportshift transmission, for fast precise gear shifts, and all the cars are equipped with roll cages, safety fuel tanks, race seats and harnesses, and fire extinguisher systems. The cars will be serviced at the Aston Martin Beijing service facility at the city's Goldenport race circuit. Aston Martin Beijing will be offering a special factory collection option, which will see customers receive expert instruction on the Goldenport track and an opportunity to drive a Vantage N24.
The AMAC series director is Ian Ross Geekie. Ian brings a wealth of motorsport experience as a series organiser, team manager and race driver in the Asia Pacific region. Ian has previously worked with several premium automotive marques within Asia, setting up a number of successful and high profile racing championships.
In addition to prize money and trophies, the overall winner of the AMAC series will be awarded a sponsored drive in a Vantage N24 in the FIA GT4 series in 2009.
The introduction of the Aston Martin Asia Cup marks a new and exciting chapter for Aston Martin and their partners in China and the Asia Pacific region.