Aston boss Bez tells Autocar that its four-door will have to be built elsewhere
4 January 2008

Aston Martin’s boss has exclusively revealed why the firm is considering building its new four-door Rapide model abroad.Chief Executive, Dr Ulrich Bez, confirmed to Autocar that making the Rapide in Italy is one of the options being considered, and that sports car specialist Pininfarina is one of the potential third party production experts being considered.“Many manufacturers already build models at specialist manufacturers like Karmann, Magna Steyr and Pininfarina, where they have top quality facilities and all the capabilities needed,” said Bez.Bez also explained why it was not feasible for Aston to build the Rapide at its Newport Pagnell facility, where production ended earlier this year, or at its new Gaydon factory.“The facilities at Newport Pagnell were very old and not adequate and the site was not big enough. We have never built more than 600 cars at Newport so it was not really viable.”Dr Bez also said that Aston could not build the Rapide model at their Gaydon headquarters because it was already close to maximum production. Aston Martin will build just over 7200 cars at Gaydon this year and with the new DBS model going into full production next year, this number could increase by a further 5 percent. The firm has already dramatically increased the workforce.Aston also considered building a new ‘green field’ site for expanding its UK production portfolio, but this would have needed a major investment of up to £100 million, and involved a long planning procedure that could have delayed the Rapide launch until 2010. The company is still unsure of how many Rapide models they could sell, as it’s a new market for the business. But Dr Bez said that development of the new model was progressing well and that work has been carried out on the concept to provide better access via the rear doors and increasing the space in the back.“The Rapide will not be a four-seat limo; that is not its role,” he said. “It will, however, be far more elegant and stylish than any other luxury four-seat model.”

Ken Gibson

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5

4 January 2008

Can't understand anyone having an issue with this, in this day and age. When all said and done it boils down to economies of scale and given the cost of labour in the UK they obviously feel margins will be increased by going abroad.

Had this been a mass production model such as the Focus et al, I would probably have a slightly different view of this.

4 January 2008

Only if they avoid Magna Steyr - no way anyone would buy a car from the people who make (and are losing) the X3.

Karmann is neither here nor there, but do Pininfarina have the production capability to make this in the sort of numbers that Aston might want? They designers after all, not a factory.

6 January 2008

I agree, the UK has a thriving car industry, it's just owned by other people! But people have to get over this nationalistic clap trap, the world is a small place, and sometimes others do it better than we do or are just better at recognising and adapting to change.

6 January 2008

What annoys me is not the "British" thing but that the government makes it so difficult to manufacture in this country now. The whole nanny state with its health and safety risk assessment everything is what pushes up the costs, plus they tax you to the hilt.

Moving production abroad is a perfectly reasonable business decision in the current climate.

The reason Honda and Nissan can get away with it was to avoid the crippling taxes imposed on their products that would otherwise have to be imported which were put in place in order to protect our car industry in the first place! The irony is staggering.

8 January 2008

Wow, we agree again. I may become your wingman, instead of Scummies.

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