Currently reading: Mercedes to buy Aston Martin?
Mercedes Benz could buy majority stake in Aston Martin

Unconfirmed reports from well-placed sources in Germany suggest that Mercedes Benz is looking to buy a substantial stake in Aston Martin. Rumours of a potential tie-up between the two premium marques originally emerged from Kuwait in February. Adham Charonoglu, of Aston’s Kuwaiti majority shareholder DAR, suggested that Aston and Mercedes could collaborate on a range of ventures, from engine supply to entirely new models. It now seems that Mercedes-Benz is taking a much more serious interest. And there is a business link; the Kuwaiti Investment Authority hold a seven per cent stake in Daimler AG. Such a move could also help to secure Aston’s long-term future. A small company like Aston needs to buy in major components from a major automotive brand like Mercedes to remain financially viable. We know the next generation Mercedes SL will switch to a lightweight aluminium platform, presenting an obvious opportunity for Aston Martin to collaborate with Mercedes to develop new models - sharing platforms, expertise and technology. Mercedes-Benz’s current association with McLaren ends next year when the SLR goes out of production. This leaves the path clear Merc to start a new association with a British supercar maker.

Hilton Holloway/Will Powell

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TegTypeR 6 April 2008

Re: Mercedes to buy Aston Martin?

loather wrote:
He is basically right too about Aston Martin where along with Ian McCallum's great designs(one basic design iterated??) it was Dr Ulrich Bez, ex-Porsche, BMW that drove its engineering renaissance and who I understand is still its CEO.

I am not disagreeing with blktoy with regards to Dr Bez, and I have to say he has done a brilliant job at Aston. My point is more that he is one person and regardless of where he came from, the overall strings were being pulled by the Anglo / American management. Indeed if this had not been the case then Aston wouldn't have been sold.

Yes, you are also completely correct also in saying that it is company culture that caused the breakdown between both BMW/Rover and Daimler/Chrysler, and certainly nothing to do with nationality - indeed if this were the case then Lamborghini would not still be under VW/Porsche tenure at this point in time. Again my point was more the fact that Daimler have not got a particularly good track record with joint ventures. Certainly I appreciate when companies amalgamate both sides need to bend to accommodate each others cultures. This may be possible with Aston because of it's CEO and his track record with German industry and philosophy, but this is not to say it is a good thing for Aston.

As I think you will agree, the motoring market now is more concerned with perceived quality / image rather than actual, a point you made about the 1 series. Where I say prosper - and this was where I didn't make myself clear before perhaps - is in perceived image. Certainly if there was a quantifiable way of measuring such a thing you would see that both Land Rover and Jaguar are now further up the charts than they were ten years ago. It is besides the point that their manufacturing facilities are somewhat sub standard (something BMW also didn't sort out under their tenure of Land Rover either), because the average customer on the street doesn't give a damn how its built (process) rather than the finished article. Again I will agree, Land Rover still isn't great - but it doesn't stop them being sold in large quantities and perceived as good vehicles.

I will take issue however in your statement that the Mini and 1 series are cars that compete in the same bracket. Whilst their prices overlap, they certainly do not appeal to the same audience. I am also sure that BMW do not see it in the same way either. As a generalisation (and I mean this in the loosest of ways, so please don't break this down), the Mini is perceived as a "fun", where as the 1 series is "youthful". You just need to look at their marketing campaigns to see where they are aiming.

With regards to Rover, yes there was a lower to medium price vs medium to upper price ideal behind the whole venture, however BMW had problems cultivating this relationship. Regardless of which wheels they drove, the 75 and 3 series were too close in the market place for comfort. I also get the feeling (and this is just a feeling, not based on any facts) that BMW felt moving Rover down market would have been too much hastle.

Certainly none of my comments or opinions are based on nationality. It was blktoy who referred the the British press as being xenophobic (well, I refer to motoring press - I won't comment on the tabloid press as they seem to have their own standards) and I wanted to point out that it was not this drove their comments of potential poor relations.

TegTypeR 6 April 2008

Re: Mercedes to buy Aston Martin?

blktoy wrote:

Land Rover and Mini are big success stories and Rover would probably have been one too

if the British press were not so xenophobic. Lets face it the resurrection of Aston was

mainly thanks to a German .

I think you may have got this one round your neck slightly?

Land Rover, whilst under Ford ownership has prospered, but the input from the German side of Ford has been minmal. Certainly you have to credit their UK staff and American money for this. The input from the BMW ownership period was minimal as well.

Rover was never going to happen because BMW were too scared that an improved Rover would take sales from their own vehicles, as well as not having the commitment that was needed for an undoubtly long term plan.

I will agree with you on Mini, BMW have done well, if not somewhat changing the ethos of the original vehicle. Again though I refer to BMW's view on overlap. In this case there was none, so as a seperate brand and with no internal competition, BMW were going to make it work.

As for Aston, yes there was a German in control, and one who I very much admire, but it was again still very much a joint Anglo / American corperation that backed the plans. As much as you may hate it, in today's car world its money that talks, not people.

I wouldn't knock the British press for being xenophobic, they have given a balanced view and are only looking at previous history with the German car makers. Daimler hasn't got a good track record and Chrysler is proof of that, especially at a corperate level.

With regards to the potential link up, I have mixed feelings. Aston does need a larger engineering partner. Gone are the days when a small / medium sized car company could flourish and take on the big boys. With regulations for crash protection, emissions, etc, etc, etc, it is expensive to create a car, so buying in certain componentary is the way to go. Certainly from this point Mercedes are good, and anything they would bring to the party would be of a quality nature. But that is where the link should end. Aston management should still be allowed to make the decisions, do the re-engineering and building the cars to an "Aston" standard, or we will just see another arm of Mercedes. And that can only be a bad thing.

blktoy 5 April 2008

Re: Mercedes to buy Aston Martin?

The Germans with BMW have shown that they are very good at developing british brands.

Land Rover and Mini are big success stories and Rover would probably have been one too

if the British press were not so xenophobic. Lets face it the resurrection of Aston was

mainly thanks to a German .