Aston is deep into the second phase of its conversion of the former Ministry of Defence site in Wales from three super-hangars into a manufacturing facility
14 February 2018

The production lines at Aston Martin’s new plant in St Athan, Wales, are now under construction, laying the groundwork for the manufacturer to launch its new DBX crossover in 2019.

The plant's construction is said to be well into its second phase. The offices, reception area and staff restaurant are already complete, so now the ex-Ministry of Defence site's three super-hangars are being converted into a modern production facility in time for the DBX's launch. The first development prototypes are due to be built before the end of 2018.

Entering the world's fastest growing segment, the DBX (pictured below in the middle) has massive potential to expand Aston Martin's sales and enable it to tap into new markets. It will be the first of Aston Martin’s seven planned new models, which are being developed to build on the British firm's recent sales success, which resulted in it hitting a nine-year high in 2017.

As such, the St Athan site will play a significant role in growing Aston Martin production numbers. It will also be a key location in developing Aston Martin's electric and hybrid models, the first of which, the RapidE, is also due in 2019.

Read more: Production Aston Martin DBX previewed in new image

St Athan will employ 750 workers, who were selected from 3000 applicants at a recruitment event in 2016. Like Aston Martin's existing Gaydon plant, St Athan was formerly occupied by the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Aston Martin chief executive Andy Palmer said: “The St Athan facility is really starting to take shape. With the completion of this first phase, it is another milestone on our journey in Wales, and an important part of Aston Martin’s Second Century Plan.

"Work is also well underway on phase two. The Aston Martin team and I are excited for when St Athan joins our Gaydon and Newport Pagnell facilities as a centre of hand-crafted manufacturing excellence.”

Palmer previously said that there will be some overlap between activities at the company's sites: "If we’re already making components in Gaydon that are needed in St Athan there seems little point tooling up all over again. Likewise, work done in St Athan, particularly in areas such as electrification, will clearly have its applications in Gaydon.

"But, in principle, I like the idea of having two competing plants, particularly as one is in England and the other in Wales. It promotes healthy competition and each will drag the other up."

In August 2017 Aston Martin hired ex-Maserati and Ferrari engine boss Joerg Ross to be its new chief engineer for powertrains - a move which came as part of its push towards electrification.

"We will have an engineering centre [at St Athan], it is also likely to be where we do the bulk of our electrification work," said Palmer following Ross's arrival. "Also, we will have our cyber security department here. All the talk these days is of autonomous drive but very few people are talking about how to make sure these cars cannot be hacked, and in many ways that’s a more difficult challenge than autonomy. But until the cars are secure, they cannot be autonomous."

Some of the future St Athan employees are currently being trained at Aston’s Gaydon plant while working on the DB11, while another 250 jobs are being created at Gaydon. Aston claims that 1000 jobs in total will be created from its current expansion plan. 

Palmer said: “Due to its sheer size and scale, the St Athan super hangars represented an excellent opportunity for us to build our second manufacturing facility, within the envelope of an existing structure. It is perhaps fitting that St Athan is, like our headquarters and sports car factory at Gaydon, a former RAF base. We have three hangars; one will handle the body in white, one will be the paint shop and one will look after trim and final assembly."

Aston recently launched the latest Vantage, will introduce a new Vanquish this year, while the DBX in will come in 2019 and a mid-engined sports car is due in 2020. After that, new Lagondas are set to arrive in 2021 and 2022.

Jimi Beckwith and Andrew Frankel

More content:

Aston Martin DBX crossover - new pictures

Aston Martin DBX to be built in Wales

Our Verdict

Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer

Join the debate

Comments
7

6 April 2017
The report in this weeks magazine about the 7 new Astons said that the production DBX would look a lot different to the prototype. I really hope this is not the case as in my opinion the DBX in prototype form looked a very nice car.

6 April 2017
Hate the idea of an Aston SUV. This is the PERFECT opportunity to keep Aston Martin as a CAR maker, avoiding sullying what it is and what it's about -- there's no Ferrari SUV -- while also allowing the company to enter the lucrative SUV market. Just CALL IT A LAGONDA!!! Or even an Aston Martin Lagonda, if they must. I've heard the Lagonda-isn't-well-known outside the UK argument (I'm in the US), but with good marketing that would not be an issue. Heck, Lexus didn't exist when it was new, and look how marketing made that a huge success. This is the perfect opportunity to re-launch Lagonda and let Aston Martin remain a builder only of sporting CARS.

6 April 2017
And the only Lagonda anyone remembers was the fantastic looking and fantastically awful to own 4 door sedan. Let it die.
Sound move for AM. Good luck to them - this is the sort of enterprising spirit Britain needs now.
Robbo

Aussie Rob - a view from down under

7 April 2017
I disagree -- it did Porsche a lot of harm. Not to their financial position, but as a marque to respect and aspire to. Yes, I'm a purist. I've had a few Porsches, and I was a big fan of Porsche for decades. I may buy another old Porsche, but I'll probably never buy a new one. It used to be an event to see a Porsche. Now it's just another "premium" car. Let's not forget that the build quality went straight down the toilet when they started building in major volumes. 996 quality vs 993 for example -- no comparison. Cheap plastic everywhere. Engines with major catastrophic problems -- IMS bearings, rear main seals (not catastrophic, but shouldn't happen), cracked and porous bores in 911s and Boxsters. Major bore wear in Cayenne V8s. The GT cars are still interesting, but the others just don't make me want them anymore. A Cayenne is a Q7 and a Touareg underneath. The Macan is a Q5. More platform and engine-sharing is coming. Shame.

4 August 2017
Speedraser wrote:

I disagree -- it did Porsche a lot of harm. Not to their financial position, but as a marque to respect and aspire to. Yes, I'm a purist. I've had a few Porsches, and I was a big fan of Porsche for decades. I may buy another old Porsche, but I'll probably never buy a new one. It used to be an event to see a Porsche. Now it's just another "premium" car. Let's not forget that the build quality went straight down the toilet when they started building in major volumes. 996 quality vs 993 for example -- no comparison. Cheap plastic everywhere. Engines with major catastrophic problems -- IMS bearings, rear main seals (not catastrophic, but shouldn't happen), cracked and porous bores in 911s and Boxsters. Major bore wear in Cayenne V8s. The GT cars are still interesting, but the others just don't make me want them anymore. A Cayenne is a Q7 and a Touareg underneath. The Macan is a Q5. More platform and engine-sharing is coming. Shame.

 

I don't agree on the matter of platform sharing, given what everything costs nowadays it makes sense for manufacturers to spread the burden and maximize usage of each design.  Same for engines.

 

As regards jeeps, however, I'm right with you.  They are a blight on our roads second only to the electric/autonomous fad, but sadly they don't seemed destined to die out so quickly as the electric cars will.  It's especially repugnant to see badges like Lotus, Aston Martin and Volvo stuck onto hideous jeep monstrosities.  They are not only inherently more dangerous than cars, and driven by the worst kinds of driver on top of that, but they are wasteful of valuable resources and environmentally improvident compared to cars.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

7 April 2017
About the wedge Lagonda, it was and remains a spectacularly memorable car with massive "Wow factor." Why would you want to let that kind of marketing kudos die when it would be easy to revive? Recognition like that is extremely valuable -- why miss the opportunity?

7 April 2017
IIRC, Porsche sell more SUVS than standard cars - and look how sales of the F-PACE have started to lift Jaguar's numbers.

I wonder if the world had started with SUVs, these same purists would be hoping that the manufacturers stayed true to their heritage and didn't make cars.

You move with the times or become obsolete.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Alpina D5 S
    The Alpina D5 S is the German firm's latest performance version of a BMW
    First Drive
    21 February 2018
    The latest executive express from the masters of fast diesels is a fabulous machine, but is the current it's swimming against simply too strong?
  • Hyundai Nexo FCEV
    This is the new Hyundai Nexo FCEV
    First Drive
    20 February 2018
    The new Nexo SUV is a showcase for both hydrogen power and autonomous tech. Does that make it an appealing purchase?
  • Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer
    This is the Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer
    First Drive
    19 February 2018
    The Insignia GSi is Vauxhall's new performance flagship. Can this diesel estate version offer both pace and practicality?
  • Honda Civic Type R
    First Drive
    19 February 2018
    It’s a warm welcome to this steaming hot hatch. But is it too fiery for Britain’s roads?
  • Aston Martin DB11 Volante
    The DB11 Volante chassis' torsional rigidity is 22kN/deg, down from 34kN/deg on the coupe – but substantially more than the 14.7kN/deg of the DB9 Volante
    First Drive
    19 February 2018
    The DB11 Volante is the first convertible variant of Aston Martin's new model generation. How does it compare to the likes of the new Ferrari Portofino?