Yesterday, the wide open spaces of the former MOD site at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan and the three ‘super hangars’ that will on Monday morning start being converted into Aston Martin’s newest production facility provided an apt metaphor for the future the company intends for itself.
There were a few Aston Martins dotted about, indeed examples of its most famous models from over a century of production were there, but, in total, they still seemed almost lost in this enormous facility. The message from Aston was clear: all we have seen so far is just the tip of the Aston iceberg, and within two years, not only will these buildings will be full, but, no less interestingly, Aston will have figured out what to do with all the other structures at its disposal on this 90 acre site.
CEO Andy Palmer’s stated aim is to turn Aston Martin ‘from a manufacturer of sports cars into one of the world’s most respected luxury brands,’ and the terminology here is interesting and important. Car manufacturers like car magazines can no longer live by traditional means alone; brands must be leveraged, push, pulled and prodded in as many different directions as they can be persuaded to go if maximum value is to be extracted. But the replacement of the word ‘sports’ with ‘luxury’ is instructive too and even more significant: this is Palmer broadening Aston’s horizons, not just to provide space for the DBX SUV that will be built here that some might struggle to describe as a traditional sports car, but also to give himself room to manoeuvre on another front: Lagonda.