Currently reading: Q&A: Aston Martin boss wants brand to be the 'British Ferrari'
Aston will adopt Ferrari's business model, says CEO Andy Palmer, making fewer but more profitable models
Steve Cropley Autocar
News
4 mins read
8 April 2020

Aston Martin put new investor and executive chairman Lawrence Stroll front and centre of last month's reveal of the V12 Speedster. We sit down with CEO Andy Palmer to see how Stroll’s expertise (and money) will help revive Aston’s fortunes.

Lawrence Stroll talks about reducing inventories and rebalancing the company. What will the practical effects be?

“Lawrence has been the Canadian Ferrari importer a long time so he understands the Ferrari model very well. We expect in future to make materially fewer sports cars, but to make every one of them solidly profitable. We built 5800 sports cars for wholesale last year. We’ll do fewer in 2020.”

Can you be more specific about numbers?

“Not possible, I’m afraid. There will be a delay while we get stock out of the system. We’ll have to swallow hard. And change what we do. It’s time for us to make good and try to become the British Ferrari, asking customers to spec their cars individually and wait for them to be built. The DBX is already showing how we mean to go on. We’re building those cars only for retail and our order book for 2020 is full.”

What will your relationship with Red Bull be like in future?

“Red Bull’s contribution has been invaluable. Those guys have been great friends to our brand and we’ll continue as their title sponsor in F1 this year. Red Bull Technologies takes responsibility for the Valkyrie and that will continue after we launch it at the back end of the year. Beyond that, we will have a new relationship with the [F1] team currently known as Racing Point. It’s up to us to make proper use of that relationship.”

Your electrification plans for the Rapide E and Lagonda have been shelved. Is that a poor signal to send to the market?

“Our plans have gone back, but they’re far from dead. We’ve finished the Rapide E engineering, learned a ton of stuff from it and its IP remains with us. But we’ve taken the opportunity to write down the capital expenditure of the electrification work. We’ve had some difficult years. We have to decide what our new priorities are.”

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What are your priorities?

“We have to get to the midengined model bloodline – Valkyrie this year, Valhalla in 2022 and Vanquish in 2023 – and we have to bring our 3.0-litre V6 hybrid and plug-in powertrains into the whole model range as soon as possible, as a way of staying on the right side of clean air regulations. These powertrains need to be right across our range by the mid-2020s. But we’re not walking away from the Lagonda project. I’d hope that would regain its place in our priority list post-2024.”

The Vantage has had a slow start. Why is this and what can you do about it?

“Actually, we’ve grown our market share with this model. But though our slice got bigger, the cake got smaller. Also, we were missing the Roadster, which will account for about 40% of potential volume. There was a demand for a manual gearbox, which we’re now meeting, and some buyers prefer a more traditional grille, which we’re now providing. And we’re now offering the leasing deals many people want.”

What are your immediate priorities this year?

“We have to balance demand and supply to remove extra stock out of the system and get back to building cars to order. Then we have to ensure that DBX’s quality is perfect from the very first deliveries.”

How do these changes affect your own position as president and CEO?

“That’s a difficult question because you never really know. I’ve got plenty to prove. But Lawrence Stroll is more than interested in cars and he isn’t a passive guy – which I like. He’s made it clear that the CEO’s role won’t change. I’d like to be here to see the DBX and the mid-engined models through their launches, and the Lagonda too.”

So you’re fundamentally optimistic about the future?

“We had four good years from the back end of 2014, when I arrived, but 2019 was very difficult and we now have plenty to prove. We need a bit of luck with the market, but we’re cutting our cloth to suit the new priorities and conditions. If I wasn’t optimistic, I wouldn’t be the right guy for this job.”

READ MORE

Aston Martin shelves production plans for Rapide E electric saloon 

First ride: 2020 Aston Martin DBX prototype 

Aston Martin plots super-exclusive Speedster inspired by Le Mans

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15

8 April 2020

I fear Andy will soon be history once Lawrence Stroll gets his feet under the table because he will want a clean brush moving forward 

8 April 2020

Still in complete denial of Aston's problems and those of his making.   As for the DBX, when it was announced they had 1,800 orders they also stated that only 1,200 of them were customer specified orders.   Which is true?   600 non-customer specified orders or only building for retail? If both then that's 600 models just for dealers without any customer waiting.

 

Vantage isn't getting number not because there's no roadster or manual.   The numbers aren't there because the looks aren't there.   And inside the cockpit is a mess.

 

DBX isn't racing out the showrooms because whilst not a terrible design it doesn't have the wow factor that Aston needs.

 

And a LeMans look has never sold in big numbers; the Valhalla may struggle to sell 500 models, just as McLaren have had to reduced their sales of the Elva to 249.   Vanquish may not be the hit they need either.   Again, the design just doesn't quite work.

 

DB11 / DBS aren't selling enough.   Why?   The design of the interior is a mess.   DBS has a gaping nose from the Rapide that never sold in big numbers.   Repeating mistakes of the past.

 

Electrification seemed to be an old way of modifying exisiting cars with a new powertrain rather than ground up electric cars.   It's an old technology especially since Tesla showed how to build electric cars and Jaguar learned how to from that.

 

Brittish Ferrari?   They'll need to sell out to a benevolant big brother then.

 

This interview has done nothing but confirm to me that Stroll is a dreamer, and CEO Palmer must go because of one big factor - He won't sack Marek Reichman and get a compenent new designer to fix the model line up.   You want to be the next Ferrari but keep repeating the same mistake time after time by relying up a designer who's design continue to fail in the marketplace.

 

8 April 2020
Symanski wrote:

Still in complete denial of Aston's problems and those of his making.   As for the DBX, when it was announced they had 1,800 orders they also stated that only 1,200 of them were customer specified orders.   Which is true?   600 non-customer specified orders or only building for retail? If both then that's 600 models just for dealers without any customer waiting.

 

Vantage isn't getting number not because there's no roadster or manual.   The numbers aren't there because the looks aren't there.   And inside the cockpit is a mess.

 

DBX isn't racing out the showrooms because whilst not a terrible design it doesn't have the wow factor that Aston needs.

 

And a LeMans look has never sold in big numbers; the Valhalla may struggle to sell 500 models, just as McLaren have had to reduced their sales of the Elva to 249.   Vanquish may not be the hit they need either.   Again, the design just doesn't quite work.

 

DB11 / DBS aren't selling enough.   Why?   The design of the interior is a mess.   DBS has a gaping nose from the Rapide that never sold in big numbers.   Repeating mistakes of the past.

 

Electrification seemed to be an old way of modifying exisiting cars with a new powertrain rather than ground up electric cars.   It's an old technology especially since Tesla showed how to build electric cars and Jaguar learned how to from that.

 

Brittish Ferrari?   They'll need to sell out to a benevolant big brother then.

 

This interview has done nothing but confirm to me that Stroll is a dreamer, and CEO Palmer must go because of one big factor - He won't sack Marek Reichman and get a compenent new designer to fix the model line up.   You want to be the next Ferrari but keep repeating the same mistake time after time by relying up a designer who's design continue to fail in the marketplace.

 

Whilst I understand what you are saying I can't understand how you are so adamant that because you don't like the styling it's a definite styling fail that is causing a lack of sales, and that they are wrong when they say they have a larger slice of a smaller cake, which will improve with the manual, convertible and more traditional grill option.
I personally like the designs and also appreciate that they needed to move away from the previous design which was getting criticism for effectively being a range of db7s.

Totally agree re electrification, they need a ground up design to take on the taycan, and the rapide e should continue if competetive, not just phevs. But they have a strategy and I hope it works out for them.

8 April 2020
si73 wrote:

Whilst I understand what you are saying I can't understand how you are so adamant that because you don't like the styling it's a definite styling fail that is causing a lack of sales, and that they are wrong when they say they have a larger slice of a smaller cake, which will improve with the manual, convertible and more traditional grill option.

 

Like iPhone sales, they always increase when a new model comes out.   The old V8 Vantage was getting fewer and fewer buyers over time, and when you bring out a new model it is going to attract new buyers simply because it's new.   That's what has happened, that's how they got more of a market share, but very quickly sales dropped.   There isn't enough peolpe looking at the car and desiring it.   Even Aston admitted this and attempted to fix the grill.   But that's not enough to save this car.

 

There are some who will like the hunter grill and the look of the car, and that's ok, but there's more who don't.   And those aren't parting with their money at Aston's door.

 

The DB7 is a great looking car and a superb modern take on the DB5 and 6.   The way the grill and headlights work is terrific, but how the rear haunches and swept back finishes the car is beautiful.   Then Callum's Vanquish took those classic elements of an Aston and amplified them.   It is still one of the most beautiful cars ever created, yet has a stance and presence.   We need someone of Callum's talent at Aston.

 

And when someone criticises Aston for "all looking the same" what about the 911?   What about every single Audi?   Why are those companies given a free pass but Aston gets criticised for having a family look?   The only one that really looked too similar was the DB9 to DBS, but I can still tell those appart (different bumper and the DBS has more profiling over the wheels).

 

8 April 2020
Totally agree that the db7 and following cars that echo'd and enhanced that cars style are indeed beautiful, and I also agree that the critics of the evolutionary styling should look and whine at the Germans, but it was implied in everything you could read at the time that Aston's design was getting old and needed a revamp, not that I agreed. I see the new cars as still evolutionary, a good thing, there are definite styling similarities, to my eyes anyway, in such a way that badgeless I would recognise them as Astons.

8 April 2020

when they wanted to be a UK BMW.

8 April 2020
Aston's new models are failing because like Jaguar, they threw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to styling without replacing it with something equally compelling. The new models are brash and fussy without the wow factor of a Lambo or Ferrari and with none of the elegance and bite-the-back-of-your-hand gorgeousness that old Aston Martin's had.

In terms of trying to be Ferrari, here you have the same disordered management thinking again. People who want a Ferrari will buy one. Aston Martin had a brand proposition, there's no need to copy someone else. They need to find a way to make true Aston Martin's that sell, that's the problem to solve.

Look at Jaguar with their feeble attempts to copy BMW. Is it working? No! And many people, myself included, said so from the outset. Sadly, the more AM faff around with their strategy, the more damage will be done and the less certain their long term survival will be.

8 April 2020
hackjo wrote:

Aston's new models are failing because like Jaguar, they threw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to styling without replacing it with something equally compelling.

 

Jaguar needed to change their styling and it has been a successful change.   Callum saved Jaguar!

 

The X-Type never sold in sufficient numbers because it looked like the XJ, and that look was one even your grandad said was for his grandad!   Personally I couldn't believe when they brought out the all aluminum XJ in 2003 still using this look.   Fantastic car with new technology looking like something from the 1970s.   A style which was attracting fewer and fewer customers yet they thought just modernising the build was enough.   It wasn't.

 

If Jaguar hadn't moved to the new styling they wouldn't be here today.

 

8 April 2020
Symanski wrote:

hackjo wrote:

Aston's new models are failing because like Jaguar, they threw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to styling without replacing it with something equally compelling.

 

Jaguar needed to change their styling and it has been a successful change.   Callum saved Jaguar!

 

The X-Type never sold in sufficient numbers because it looked like the XJ, and that look was one even your grandad said was for his grandad!   Personally I couldn't believe when they brought out the all aluminum XJ in 2003 still using this look.   Fantastic car with new technology looking like something from the 1970s.   A style which was attracting fewer and fewer customers yet they thought just modernising the build was enough.   It wasn't.

 

If Jaguar hadn't moved to the new styling they wouldn't be here today.

 

I truly wish I could agree, but the dreadful state of JLR's finances unfortunately bears out that this change in direction has not been successful.

 

8 April 2020

Sell this bucket to the Chinese, probably Geely and get in talented car designer. Share price and its collapse said everything about the worthlessness of the brand in its present guise. Its sheer poor styling doesnt help either. Ugly.

 

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