Aston Martin underscores its independence with the DB11
Plus: Analysis on Fiat Chrysler's Apple lust and the purity of the Porsche 911 R.
This high-powered sports car is a microcosm of Aston's strategy and capabilities. The 5.2-liter V12 was developed in-house and uses twin turbochargers to outgun the old naturally aspirated 6.0-liter 12-cylinder. The aluminum platform and sleek, contemporary design are all Aston. These are the pillars of its so-called second century plan.
"This is not only the most important car that Aston Martin has launched in recent history, but also in its 103-year existence," CEO Andy Palmer said in a statement. "The DB11 rightfully places Aston Martin once again as a leading brand in the luxury automotive market."
Aston also knows its limitations under private stewardship, which is why it tapped partner Daimler for the infotainment system. The German giant holds five percent of Aston, which is owned by a Kuwaiti consortium and an Italian equity group. Aston leadership chose the areas that defined the company's future and outsourced the non-essentials. That strategy allowed it to focus on making
the DB11 true to the company's heritage. Sure, it faces challenges against stiff competition from high-end sports-car makers, but it's already gaining traction.
"[It] will have to prove the company's new platform and powertrain technology while generating solid profits," IHS analyst Tim Urquhart wrote in a research note. "However, the omens for Aston are good, with over 1,000 advanced orders already."
Even though Aston has ambitious plans to expand its product portfolio with a crossover and electrified vehicles, the DB11 remains the flagship. In 2007, many would have questioned if this car was even possible. Now the question is: What's next?
News & Analysis
News: Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne wants to partner with Apple to build its car, according to Bloomberg.
Analysis: Sure he does. A lot of carmakers probably do. Sergio isn't shy about partnerships. This is the guy who turned an earnings call into a manifesto on industry consolidation and used a bizarre hugging analogy to illustrate his pursuit of General Motors. In this case, he's right. FCA would benefit a lot from producing the Apple car. Putting the white Apple badge on the hood of a vehicle would instantly attract a new and younger audience. Overnight, it would make FCA the coolest car company, at least with the tech crowd.
That being said, Tim Cook and Apple have a learning curve when it comes to the auto industry, which is far more nimble, advanced, and regulated than Silicon Valley appears to give it credit for. FCA, with more than a century of manufacturing everything from hybrids to Hellcats could probably teach Apple a thing or two.
News: Porsche goes back to basics with the 911 R at the Geneva Motor Show.
Analysis: Cut through the glitz and glam of one of the world's greatest automotive exhibitions. This is the car you want. You get a naturally aspirated 500-hp flat six paired with a six-speed manual. It's the lightest 911 you can get, just 3,021 pounds. R stands for racing, and it's a return to Porsche's purist roots. Purity doesn't come cheap. The 911 R starts at $185,950, and fittingly 991 copies will be sold worldwide. If you're looking for a new toy, this is an intriguing option.
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