Aston will replace all of the cars in its current lineup and add a fourth sports car to its stable. It currently has three: the DB9, Vanquish and Vantage. The unnamed sports car will be joined by a production version of the DBX concept – an all-wheel-drive electric car that treads near crossover territory – that was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show. Aston's electric strategy also includes a potential electric-powered Rapide. Eventually, Aston plans to build a new four-door Lagonda.
Though Aston will diversify its portfolio and the range could expand to seven vehicles, it will limit production to around 7,000 units annually, said Aston Martin marketing and communications director Simon Sproule, who described the company's strategy in an interview with Autoblog. CEO Andy Palmer, who joined Aston last year from Infiniti, has also spoken recently about remaking the company for the future.
EVs are a major part of Aston's future, Sproule stressed, because they allow the automaker to "balance" its portfolio. Aston is studying the feasibility of an electric Rapide and is working with an undisclosed engineering firm. It's likely to use a plug-in setup and would cost $200,000 to $250,000 or more. It could use either a rear-wheel or all-wheel-drive configuration.
"It's a study, but we're serious about it," Sproule said. He added for emphasis: "If not this, there will be an electric Aston Martin in the future."
Aston has taken note of what Tesla has done with the brisk-driving Model S and decided that's the dynamic it wants for some of its own cars. Even though EVs don't emit the same sonorous note as a V12 – they're better than the alternative, Sproule said.
"The sound of silence is much more preferable than the sound of a four-cylinder whining away under the hood of an Aston Martin," he said.
Speaking of V12s, they're not going away. Aston will continue to make its own V12 engine, but will source its V8 from Mercedes-AMG (whose parent, Daimler, owns a small stake in Aston).
While the V12 is sure to please the faithful, Aston admits EVs and the crossover-like DBX will rankle many. Sproule argues those are the moves that will keep Aston relevant.
"We've got to do a few of the things the purists won't like, but if we don't – it [Aston] will be this museum piece."
Other News & Notes
Henrik Fisker's Thunderbolt flames out
Aston Martin was also in the news this week over a spat with its former designer, Henrik Fisker. His latest creation, a riff on the Aston Martin Vanquish called Project Thunderbolt, created a stir at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in March and then generated a lawsuit from Aston, which was none-too-pleased Fisker decided to use the Vanquish as a canvas for his stylings.
On Wednesday, the two sides announced they have agreed to a peace settlement. Aston is dropping the suit, and Fisker won't produce the Thunderbolt. Since leaving Fisker Automotive before the company fell into bankruptcy, Henrik Fisker has resurfaced and designed a carbon-fiber version of the 2015 Ford Mustang and a motorcycle concept.
Gordon Murray teams with Shell on city car
Speaking of noted designers from the past, Gordon Murray is teaming with Shell to create a city car concept. Called Project M for now, the concept is expected to be revealed in November. It's not intended for production.
You might remember another semi-recent Shell-Murray project, called the T.25 concept, from 2010. Murray and Shell are billing Project M as a "total re-think" of the T.25 venture, which was said to achieve 97 miles per gallon. Project M also involves engine expertise from former Honda F1 director Osamu Goto and his engineering firm, Geo Technology.
De Niro to play Enzo Ferrari
Talk about your big names coming together: Hollywood icon Robert De Niro will play Enzo Ferrari, according to Italian newspaper Il Messaggero. The 71-year-old said the filming will done be mostly in Italy, and the project is his top priority. The movie will focus on Ferrari from the 1940s into the 1980s. Enzo Ferrari died in 1988, but he remains a giant over the company that bears his name and in Italy. De Niro also told the newspaper he'd like Clint Eastwood to direct the movie, though Eastwood was waiting to read the script before agreeing to do the project.