Reports yesterday evening from Reuters suggest that Indian commercial vehicle and tractor maker Mahindra and Mahindra may win the race to buy a 50 per cent stake in Aston Martin by the end of the week. This potential deal is causing much amusement in financial circles. What would a tractor maker want with a smaller supercar maker?
There is a lovely circularity about the Mahindra deal, as is being pointed out. Aston Martin’s post-war owner David Brown (who bought the company in 1948) made his money in designing tractors. Ferruccio Lamborghini started in tractor manufacturing in 1948 and started his supercar company in 1963. Ferdinand Porsche also designed a range of tractors in the 1930s, alongside his work developing the People’s Car.
According to the Reuter’s source, the Mahindra deal could see as much as £250m being exchanged for a 50 per cent stake in the company. While Aston banked £72m in profits on around 4200 sales last time around, it is clear that it cannot go on forever tweaking the VH platform and elegantly re-cycling the styling theme established with the 2003 DB9, especially with new pollution, emissions and safety laws on the way.
Such a small turnover and comparatively low profits – and ever-increasing legislative barriers – make it impossible to either take a radically new turn or expand the range into a booming segment such as luxury SUVs. Aston really needs the warm embrace of a global carmaker.