Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez defends decision to build Toyota-based city car

Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez has defended the company's decision to launch the Cygnet city car, a reworked version of the Toyota iQ.

The Aston Martin Cygnet, which will cost £30-50,000 when it goes on sale, has drawn criticism for undermining the brand values that have made Astons so exclusive.

See the Aston Martin Cygnet pictures

But Bez countered: "First, we need a more sustainable product line-up. This company has been brought back from the brink of bankruptcy too many times. We need to be sensitive to the economic and social climate; to offer cars that people can buy even in tough times.

“Second, we need to satisfy demand where we know it exists,” he goes on. “We have many customers who live in London, Paris, Rome or Milan, and who would like to drive their Aston Martin more often, but with a V12 sports car, it’s just not appropriate. They tell me that they want an Aston Martin that fits better into their urban lives. And it is our job to give them what they want.

"Thirdly, we need to bring the company’s fleet carbon emissions down. The Cygnet is perfect for that. This is just a small, stylish and efficient runabout: it doesn’t need batteries or flywheels to be that way. So it’s not pretending to be something it’s not.”

Bez also insisted that reaction to the car had been overwhelmingly positive since its unveiling at the Geneva motor show last week.

“So far, the vast majority of reactions have been positive,” he said. “It’s a new, younger customer who really likes the car. I think we have 50 orders already today, just in a couple of hours.

“For the more traditional customers, those who have a classic DB4 as well as a DBS – I’d say one or two out of every ten has an objection. They write letters to me threatening that they’ll never buy an Aston Martin again if we make this car.

"But when I write back, invite them to pay us a visit, and explain why we need this car, almost all of them come around. Ultimately they understand that change is needed. The dinosaurs are slowly dying out.”

Bez also insisted that the Cygnet is as special as any other Aston.

“I think the Toyota iQ is a very special car anyway, but the Cygnet is even more special," he said. "Each gets proper Aston Martin styling. Each gets a brand new interior with special, high quality materials. Each will be a true representation of Aston Martin’s trademark style and painstaking craftsmanship. And more than 100 man hours will go into each of them.

“Our challenge is to be innovative but pragmatic; to safeguard the future of Aston Martin, to give people what they want, and of course, to stay true to ourselves. We’re not going to stop making beautiful sports cars just because of the Cygnet: this is just an opportunity to do something new. And I don’t think it’s an opportunity that we can afford to miss.”

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49

8 March 2010

You can tell that they're trying to appeal to the "new, younger customer" - the model shown is driving around with its 'sporty' foglights on.

8 March 2010

[quote Autocar]Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez has defended the company's decision to launch the Cygnet city car, a reworked version of the Toyota iQ.

The Aston Martin Cygnet, which will cost £30-50,000 when it goes on sale, has drawn criticism for undermining the brand values that have made Astons so exclusive.
[/quote] Cobblers. Why not team up with Daihatsu and a vinyl graphics firm? The result would be no more ridiculous. V8 Vantage? Yes please. AM IQ, you have be without any IQ to buy this car. Think back to Panther versions of The Dolomite. Where are Panther now? See what I mean?

8 March 2010

don't see why they had to go for the smallest squashed car available, even the Aygo could have worked better

8 March 2010

This guy is ruining Aston Martin - It's a brand with such heritage and pedigree and this guy just throws it all away by just rebadging Toyotas. I hope they get rid of him ASAP.

I don't disagree with the prospect of a small city car by aston martin, but the execution of the idea is all wrong.

This guy is just diluting the brand. Mechanically, its just a Toyota, and not even a very cool Toyota at that.

Why on earth use Toyota as a starting block?

You can tell the guy is out of his mind, he things that the reaction is overwhelmingly positive? Please tell me, who is he talking too? Everyone I have spoke too and from online forums are overwhelmingly against it.

Another Great British brand down the toilet.

8 March 2010

[quote Mr£4worth]Think back to Panther versions of The Dolomite. Where are Panther now? See what I mean?[/quote]

Brilliant comparison.

I've heard on the grapevine that Ferrari have been totally wrong footed by this stroke of genius and have scrapped their new model plans so they can concentrate on fibreglassing new front ends to a load of pandas they have stored in a field somewhere. For the more discerning customer, they'll even do a punto for you.

Seriously, how long will it be before someone on ebay does a look-a-like kit for the IQ?

Or some pillock get's a Cignet bumper from a scrappers, 'updates' his IQ and makes the cover of Max Power?

Have they set a launch date for this? Can I suggest April 1st?

8 March 2010

[quote catnip]You can tell that they're trying to appeal to the "new, younger customer" - the model shown is driving around with its 'sporty' foglights on.
[/quote]

The foglights are daytime running lights as the real foglights are built into the main headlamp unit.

On the topic of brand values. I seem to remember several Faits over the years with special edition Michael Schumacher and Ferrari logos on them. These were barely modified cars just with a load of stickers and trim. No one cared what this would do to their brand image and clearly time has passed and most are not even aware they even existed. Maserati recently also launched their own version of the Alfa Mito so to be fair they are all it.

DKW

8 March 2010

Aston have done well to produce decent cars recently. However, allthough the cars are decent, the brand has been debased (as has Bentley). If you see an Aston/Bentley now, do you think Gentleman/Duke? I just think someone who's done well for themselves who's flashing their cash - it's a disappointing shift of image.

As for “We need to satisfy demand where we know it exists” ,what utter twaddle. Why? Why is it down to Aston to satisfy a potential demand in an area in which they have had no prior connection? Bez could just as well be saying to us 6 months from now: 'There was clearly a potential market for packets of pre-cooked toast, so as we need to satisfy demand where we know it exists, that's what Aston makes these days.".

No sunshine, you have no more obligation to fulfill new demand than I have. 'Demand' my jaxy - how many existing customers have been banging on his door insisting on a 200% markup on a humble toy car (with the limited crash protection of all small cars)? They drive double decker buses around London for Gawds sake.

"Bez also insisted that reaction to the car had been overwhelmingly positive since its unveiling at the Geneva motor show last week.“So far, the vast majority of reactions have been positive,” he said." Mmmm. Yes, you only have to read this forum to see how positive the reactions have been.

8 March 2010

I suspect the need to reduce fleet emissions is the overwhelming reason this car has been built. What intrigues me is, if it's proved to be a successful ploy is what other "supercar" manufacturers may base their equivalents on.

Ferrari would I presume use a FIAT 500, Porsche the VW Fox, perhaps,Koenigsegg may choose the SMART,etc etc...

What would you like Zonda to choose?

 

 

8 March 2010

[quote Leslie Brook]What would you like Zonda to choose?[/quote]

That's easy .... Zonda + Honda ... jazz up a Jazz ;o)

8 March 2010

[quote MattDB]Maserati recently also launched their own version of the Alfa Mito so to be fair they are all it.[/quote]

Not true and not really a fair comparison. The Mito is still a Mito with Alfa Romeo badging, it just gains a mention of 'Mito for Maserati' on the kickplate, a numbered plaque on the dash, a nice tan leather interior and a unique paint job. Even those wheels are options on the standard Mito models. Maserati haven't tried to stick a Maser grille or lights onto it either. It's not being produced for the same reasons the Cygnet is and it is also not pretending to be a Maserati or claiming to be appealing to a new market. The Alfa Mito was built FOR Maserati as a special model to be used by dealers as courtesy cars. It's not a Mito BY Maserati, it's a Mito FOR Maserati; as I pointed out in a post below the typically incorrect and misleading article by Autocar last January:

Re: Alfa Romeo Mito by Maserati
Thu, Jan 28 2010 1:57 PM

Autocar:
"All models will come with an individually numbered plaque on the centre console and aluminium kick plates which read ‘Alfa Romeo by Maserati’."

PDMC: No they don't. They read, 'Alfa Romeo for Maserati'.

The iQ is a hideous little appliance and unfortunately the Cygnet (terrible, TERRIBLE name ) is little better, despite the contrived 'Aston' face they've nailed onto it. Aston say they've upgraded the interior materials. Well it's not like they had a bloody choice! No self respecting Aston Martin owner would even put their pets in a standard iQ, let alone sit in or drive one themselves. The standard iQ has some of the most horrific fabrics and shiney plastics ever used in a car interior. I briefly sat in one at the Paris Salon' in 2008 and promptly leapt back out. This is nothing more than a cynical ploy to overcome the average CO2 emissions regulations per brand. Surely something like a rebadged FT86 or something similar from Toyota could've worked similar magic and more convincingly too!

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