Palmer, previously a global-level big cheese at Nissan, is outlining his plan to re-boot Aston’s product line up, significantly boost sales and, most significantly, appeal to female buyers.
He told the FT that pure sportscars could not be the ‘be all and end all’ of the Aston Martin brand. In future, Palmer sees big luxury saloons similar to the new Lagonda Taraf and another type of vehicle that will appeal to younger buyers and women.
The only hint Palmer gave about this third-strand of the future model line up was that the car was likely to have a higher driving position, though it would definitely not be a conventional SUV. Autocar dug out a little more about that car this morning.
According to the FT, this future version of Aston would shift around 4000 pure sports cars, 4000 limos (many of which would be sold in exclusivity-conscious China) and 4000 of the female-friendly model.
That would decisively shift Aston into profit and start to address the issue of the company’s significant debts, which are thought to be over £420m.
This transformation of Aston Martin started on Monday, with the first newspaper ads for the Taraf super-limo. Contrary to the original plans, it will now also be offered outside the Middle East and in right-hand drive, but the production run will be limited to just 200 units. Expect a serious price tag.
What’s odd about the Taraf (though this Arabic name will be probably dropped) advert is that is doesn’t use any Aston Martin co-branding and only says that ‘Lagonda has returned’ under the tagline ‘the finest of fast cars.’
It suggests that Aston will be building this old marque back into a stand-alone ultra-exclusive brand. But it also poses the question whether adding a second brand just confuses attempts to haul Aston Martin up from its current sales of around 4000 cars per year.
In any case, creating this smaller, more female-friendly, new model will be a task that will surely take design boss Marek Reichman and his team well out of their comfort zone.
Andy Palmer says he wants the new car to have the ‘beauty’ of today’s Astons – something he knows female drivers greatly appreciate – but in a more accessible format. It’s hard to imagine such a car.
It would have to be shorter, taller and yet still classically elegant. And there’ll be no room for the kind of discordant lines that marked out the Lagonda SUV concept that was unveiled at the Geneva show in 2009. This is completely new territory for Aston.
But as it becomes clear that the global market for traditional, hardcore supercars is very limited and is likely to shrink in the future, Aston’s future prospects on this brave leap into the unknown.