Aston Martin is producing some excellent new product, but it faces a tough few years in the face of impressive sales from rivals, including Ferrari
Julian Rendell
2 November 2012

The importance of the new Aston Martin Vanquish cannot be underestimated.

The Vanquish replaces the DBS, which carries a £60k premium over the DB9 and has sold in quantities of 600 to 800 units a year since launch in 2007. Within Aston, the DBS is regarded as a bigger success than the original Vanquish.

Crucially, the DBS’s healthy profit margin has contributed significantly to Aston’s survival since the 2008 crash, largely because its traditional customer base has proven more loyal.

In fact, DBS sales actually went up in 2008-2009 - the first full year of the crash - while sales of the rival Ferrari 599 GTB collapsed to half of pre-recession levels, according to figures from IHS Global Insight. “The DBS has proved resilient, but the overall picture at Aston is not so good,” says IHS analyst Colin Couchman.

Today, the unanswered question is whether the new Vanquish will repeat the success of the DBS over the next five to eight years, given the technical progress being made by rivals.

The Ferrari F12 has arrived with a stonking 730bhp and agile chassis, and competition from Mercedes’ SLS - which outsells the DBS nearly four to one - can’t be overlooked.

Undeterred, Aston is said to be eyeing Vanquish global sales of 1000 a year, but the Vanquish must fight on with a 10-year-old V12 and modified alloy platform. How it fares is likely to shape Aston’s future.

Compare the success of the DBS with the struggles of its stablemates, the Vantage and DB9. The sobering figure for the Vantage is a 62 per cent sales decline from its peak. For the DB9, the decline in sales is 71 per cent.

In 2007 the Vantage commanded about 3600 sales but has since declined inexorably to 1300 units.

Of course, the segment- defining Porsche 911 has suffered, too. But whereas the Vantage was once achieving 10 per cent of 911 sales, it is now worth just six.

And the consequence of the arrival in 2009 of the Ferrari California has been a dramatic slide in DB9 sales, which are now in the 1000-a- year bracket.

Ferrari’s healthy sales figures for its mid-engined F430 and 458 shine an even harsher light, tracking at about 3300 a year.

Against this background, Aston faces a tough task planning replacements for its core Vantage and DB9 models. A conservative view might predict only 2500 sales annually for these two-door models, a challengingly small number. Overall, Aston is running at about 4000 cars a year, down from 6500-plus in 2007.

So what’s the future for Aston? It’s hard to see how the revenue from 4000 cars a year will be sufficient to self-fund a new alloy chassis platform plus a V8/V12 engine family and multiple body styles.

The day when Aston needs a technology partner - at least for an engine - seems to be approaching ever faster.

Our Verdict

Aston Martin Vanquish

Is the revived Aston Martin Vanquish a worthy successor to the range-topping Aston DBS?

Join the debate

Comments
21

2 November 2012

The problem lies with taste. The other cars in the DBS sales comparison graph are vulgar, some to the extreme!

2 November 2012

Quote:

The problem lies with taste. The other cars in the DBS sales comparison graph are vulgar, some to the extreme!

I have to agree. I do not think Aston and Ferrari customers are the same people. At least the overlap is very small IMHO. I have never wanted to own a Ferrari and have never even test driven one. But I have been a passenger many times. My associate is a Ferrari bigot and always will be. He doesn't even consider a Ferrari California to be a 'real' Ferrari. He was a fighther pilot in the French airforce and drives his FF around Paris like he flew his Mirage over eastern Europe. He scares the s**t out of me and is going to kill someone one day.

I am an Aston fan and am looking for something with style and class. I rarely push any car I own to the limit and (mostly) respect speed limits.

What are you going to do with 700 bhp outside of the Middle East? And don't talk to me about India and China. They don't have the roads (yet) to get out of 2nd gear in these cars. I've been there, believe me. There is about 30km in New Dehli that can support any kind of sports car. And that's it for India. Since there is no highway code or notion of road safety there, drivng fast gets you killed within the hour. They dig up roads to lay drain pipes and don't flag them with cones. You only know there is a hole because everyone is driving on the path.

Maybe I am the odd one out, but I am not worried about Aston's future. As the article states, there is a loyal customer base and a lively second hand car market (at least here in France).

As I have said before, you don't buy an Aston for pure performance.

Beauty, Power, Soul. Not Beauty, Performance, Soul.

 

2 November 2012

I am sorry but the problem lies with the man at the top running the show. His total lack of ambition for his product and his readiness to settle for an inferior piece of engineering compared to his rivals, will be the dowfall of Aston Martin. If they don't get rid of him then Aston's days are numbered. Engineering wise, this new model is an outdated piece of rubbish, they should be ashamed. I could do a much better job of running the show than he seems able so to do.

Perleese.......the Aston Cygnet !!!  That 4x4 monstrocity in Geneva a few years back !!  What on earth was going through his mind, Dave Richards needs waking up as well.......... for heavens sake guys, come on!

I have a DBS but no longer drive it because it is so inferior to my 991 the difference in nearly every detail is staggering. I am desperate to sell the DBS but seemingly nobody wants it, it has been in a main dealer Aston showroom since last December with 3,500kms on the clock. That says it all really.

Over the past few years, Ferraris were really ugly, ( Yes, they do get compared even though Bez says they don't )  this was Aston's strength but now things are on the change and it is so sad to see such a proud marque be taken down the drain by management who just don't get it, as you can see it makes my blood boil.

Rant over !

 

2 November 2012

I've seen a couple of the new Vanquish on the road now and if it can be judged on looks alone, it's going to be a hude sales success.

2 November 2012

They seem the 2 obvious choices, BMW has done wonders with Rolls, Mercedes failed with the Maybach brand, could rebrand their F1 team and already offers engines to Pagani, but does the crunch in Europe mean they are unwilling/unable to invest further at the moment?

2 November 2012

Great piece, and facinating to see the figures compared to rivals. 

One has to agree.

2 November 2012

Its a stunning car, but i think looks are a big part of the problem. I know we hear it time and time again, but i cant honestly tell one modern Aston from another on the road. So if you love the styling you might well already have one, so what is the point in swapping?

If i had the cash, and wanted a 'supercar' the old chassis, or old engines wouldnt put me off, afterall its still capable of far more than anyone will ask of it on the road. 

I think Aston need to find a new, but equally stunning styling direction and i am sure sales figures will grow again

2 November 2012

Come on Sable007, give Dr. Bez a break.  The guy has done wonders for Aston.  Take where it was with DB7, look where it is with Vanquish and give the guy a break, perhaps some respect if yiu can stretch to it.  His vision and single-mindedness have transformed the brand.  He's Aston's Steve Jobs.  Ok, inspiration can run in cycles and his might now be exhausted, but don't underestimate his massive achievements with one of the jewels in the crown of British industry.

 

3 November 2012

We are all entitled to our opinion of course but I simply cannot agree with you, sorry !

My DBS has a horrible Sat Nav, taken from a Volvo I believe, the rear diff whines at a constant 100mph, the headlights are so bad as to be a disgrace, the controls on the centre console are unnecessarily complicated, some dials are unreadable, the fuel tank backs up all the time you are trying to fill it, when turning sharp left or right at a junction the inner rear wheel will always spin, the brakes squeel at low speed...............yeah right, Steve Jobs would have passed that little lot wouldn't he....... er I think not. Not in a million years, to compare the two men is like comparing chalk with cheese, sorry.

No,  the attention to detail is sorely lacking and I hold Bez completely responsible.

Most importantly, if my Golf can have a DSG gearbox then so can my Aston, I simply do not accept the additional weight issue as an excuse, ask Porsche, McLaren and Ferrari.

I so want to buy another Aston but until the engineering compares with other cars out there, not a chance and if Bez thinks existing customers like me will keep coming back just because it looks pretty, then think again.

Sorry if I come over as a bit rude, no offence is meant at all shuffleboardwiz but I am not a very happy Aston owner as you can see !

 

 

 

3 November 2012

sable007 wrote:

 

Sorry if I come over as a bit rude, no offence is meant at all shuffleboardwiz but I am not a very happy Aston owner as you can see !

 Thanks Sable007, you have not been rude at all.  I was being deliberately provocative comparing Dr. Bez to Steve Jobs.

I agree that there are a lot of ways the current Astons could be better.  I am sure they would love to have a DSG box but they dont have the money to develop one themselves and would be at the back of the queue for OEM suppliers given their realtively small volume.  I just think its harsh to attribute the slow progress to to a lack of vision at the top when cash is the problem.  I would'nt hold out any hope that BMW or MB will buy Aston now.  They would have it by now if they wanted it.  JLR will buy it, I believe.

 

 

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Kia Stonic
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Handsome entrant into the bulging small crossover market has a strong engine and agile handling, but isn’t as comfortable or complete as rivals
  • Hyundai Kona
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Hyundai's funky-looking Kona crossover with a peppy three-cylinder engine makes all the right noises for the car to be a success in a crowded segment
  • Citroën C3 Aircross
    First Drive
    17 October 2017
    The Citroen C3 Aircross has got funky looks and a charming interior, but it's another small SUV, and another dynamic miss. Numb steering is just one thing keeping it from class best
  • Skoda-Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq
  • Audi Q7 e-tron
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Expensive and flawed but this understated diesel-electric Audi Q7 has a lot to offer