Called the Second Century plan, the steps outlined by the company's new chief executive Andy Palmer include replacing every model in Aston's lineup by the end of this decade – now less than five years away. That's a pretty aggressive plan, but one that critics would say is sorely needed for a company with a model line as antiquated as Gaydon's. But that's not the end of the story.
In addition to replacing its current models, Aston's revitalization plan also calls for adding "up to three new model lines" to its range. Now we already knew that the British automaker is working on bringing the DBX crossover concept to production, as well as a Lagonda sedan more widely available than the strictly limited Taraf. But just what that third model line would be, we don't know at this point. We could be looking at a new sports car, an additional Lagonda model (perhaps a larger crossover) or something else entirely.
One thing's for sure, though: Aston isn't about to reskin one of its current models and call it a day as it has been (to considerable effect, mind you) for much of its recent history. It has a new platform under development, a new deal with Mercedes to provide engines and other technologies, and an influx of R&D funds provided principally by its new stakeholder Investindustrial.
All of that adds up to a breath of fresh air being blown into the century-old automaker the likes of which it hasn't seen since Ford rescued it from obscurity in the 1990s and gave most of the building blocks it's still using today.
- Asia show debuts for DBX Concept and Lagonda Taraf
- Comprehensive product renewal and expansion ahead
- Aston Martin underlines commitment to the Chinese market
20 April 2015, Shanghai: Luxury British car brand Aston Martin Lagonda is confidently looking to the future at the 16th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition, with CEO Dr Andy Palmer leading the company into an exciting new era reaching far into the next decade. For the first time in China the innovative DBX Concept and exclusive Lagonda Taraf were unveiled, spearheading Aston Martin's display at the show.
The display of handcrafted luxury sports cars in Shanghai defines the way ahead for Aston Martin and its commitment to the market in China, with each model on display representing a distinctive and differentiated story for Chinese customers
The DBX Concept signals a key change in vision as the brand embarks on a new chapter of change and growth.
"With its unique fusion of high luxury and advanced technology along with its day-to-day practicality, the DBX Concept is a piece of fresh, bold thinking about how the high luxury GT sector may evolve," said Dr Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin. "It is our first all-electric, all-wheel drive car, showcasing the brand's world-class engineering and design capabilities, and we believe this type of product will be particularly appealing to customers in China."
Looking to the future: Aston Martin's Second Century
Attending his first auto show in China as the new CEO of Aston Martin, Dr Andy Palmer outlined the new vision and direction for the brand.
The "Second Century" plan is a comprehensive strategy for the growth and development of the renowned British brand, and will ensure Aston Martin's sustainability and success.
Significantly, Aston Martin will focus on delivering a new wave of products that are being developed under the largest investment plan in its 102 year history. By the end of the decade, every model in the current line-up will be replaced and up to three new models lines will be added.
"The Second Century plan not only delivers exciting and highly desirable new luxury sports cars in the traditional sense, but also embraces new powertrain technology. I have challenged not only convention but also my team to investigate an electric version of the Rapide, a product which will undoubtedly be attractive for the China market. Our relationships with leading Chinese companies such as Hanergy and now with Letv shows the potential to connect British craftsmanship with the very latest in Chinese technology," added Dr Palmer.
The strategic plan also encompasses the brand's intention to enter the luxury sedan market in China. Strictly limited to a global production run of just 200 super-saloons, the Lagonda Taraf follows in the wake of other bespoke special projects by Aston Martin such as the creation of the extreme Aston Martin Vulcan supercar, Vantage GT12, One-77, V12 Zagato and the CC100 Speedster Concept. The luxurious new super saloon draws inspiration from the highly sought-after William Towns-designed Lagonda of 1976 and features many of the same cutting-edge engineering techniques seen in modern Aston Martin sports cars, such as the extensive use of carbon fibre body panels.
This year, the brand will expand its popular and growing bespoke personalisation service – Q by Aston Martin – and fully integrate it into the company's Special Products Division. The new business unit is able to deliver anything from unique interiors to creating the DB10 that will feature in the next James Bond film, Spectre.
And it is this team that has created the new Lagonda Taraf. Q by Aston Martin takes bespoke automotive tailoring to the ultimate level, and has enabled the brand to create ultra-personalised luxury sports cars for an increasing number of Chinese customers.
Guests on the show stand were able to take a closer look at the wide array of options available through the Q by Aston Martin service. The Q by Aston Martin Rapide S on display, with its unique specification of a White Essence exterior and Saddle Leather interior, served to highlight the limitless personalisation possibilities through the service.
Commitment to China
While the DBX Concept highlights the future of luxury GT sports cars for the brand, the new 8-speed models on display at the Aston Martin stand – the Vanquish and Rapide S – are now available to order in China along with the exclusive Lagonda Taraf.
The latest versions of the Vanquish and Rapide S feature the new state-of-the-art ZF Touchtronic III 8-speed automatic transmission, and offer not only considerably enhanced performance and much-improved fuel economy and emissions, but also an even more honed, precise and responsive driving experience. Improvements have been achieved in every major area of the cars' performance and fuel economy, and both models are now capable of top speeds in excess of 320 km/h (200 mph).
Representing the brand's sports-focused Vantage range on the Shanghai show stand is a V8 Vantage Coupe finished in luxurious Mariana Blue with a motorsport derived graphics pack. The V8 Vantage Coupe is available to order in China from 1.98m RMB alongside its exhilarating stable mate, the V12 Vantage S Coupe from 2.88m RMB.
"The China auto show debuts of the DBX Concept and Lagonda Taraf at Auto Shanghai 2015 are a clear signal that China is an increasingly significant market for Aston Martin," said Mr. Michael Peng, President of Aston Martin China. "In the second century, we will continue to place a high importance on China and its growing number of discerning luxury sports car enthusiasts. We have stable and long-term relationships with our China dealer partners who represent the brand in 15 key cities on the Mainland, and we will work with these partners to continue to deliver first-class services to our valued Chinese customers."