The Aston Martin brand is known for its high-dollar sports cars but will its lineup ever become more diverse?
“[We’re] very conscious of market demand; we have to be,” said Julian Jenkins, president, Aston Martin the Americas. “If there is a segment, if there is an opportunity that we can sit comfortably within we will go after it.” What areas of the market this could include is still a mystery though.
When asked if they’d ever reach into lower vehicle segments in a bid to increase volume and ultimately profits Jenkins said, “No, not at this stage.” He said they’re comfortable with the new Vantage GT, which starts at right around $100,000 and serves as their base product.
Rather than chase those sales at the bottom end of the market, Aston wants to maintain exclusivity and may go upmarket to find new buyers. “I think the Lagonda as a brand would be an interesting opportunity,” Jenkins said, adding, “That’s something that we can build in the future.” Originally this model was a “super saloon” the company introduced back in the mid 1970s, though they’ve revived it once again.
The new Lagonda Taraf is a bespoke four-door offered exclusively in the Middle East where it caters to special market demands. Built on the firm’s ubiquitous VH architecture you can think of this car as a less dramatically styled Rapide S with a usable back seat. Interestingly they also used the name Lagonda on a crossover concept about six years ago.
But it’s unlikely the company will be storming into new market segments anytime soon. Jenkins said, “I think today, certainly for Aston Martin, we focus on … sports cars. That’s where we come from and that’s our niche. Clearly that’s the immediate focus based on the range we’ve got today.”
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About two years ago they signed a deal with Mercedes-Benz to get transmissions, electrical systems and V8 engines but strategic planning could be an important part of other future products the company introduces. Jenkins said, “I think we’ve been in a very fortunate position, we’re small, independent and that’s enabled us to collaborate, to work with a number of manufacturers.” In the past Aston Martin has partnered with Toyota and Cosworth, of course they have a history with Ford and now they’ve joined forces with AMG.
Matthew Clarke, public relations and brand communications manager for Aston Martin said, “One of our strengths is we can do that; we’re not constrained by any internal politics. We can talk to whoever we wish.”
Jenkins said sales growth can come from their existing lineup. “We’ve only got 149 dealers worldwide, so [there are] markets that we’re only just going into now.” In fact Aston Martin just started operating in South America. They’ve got a presence in Chile, Brazil and Peru. Additionally they launched in Mexico last year.
Naturally China is another important country for Aston Martin, as it is for practically every automaker. Jenkins said they’re reinforcing their positing there and currently have 14 dealerships. Worldwide they only have 149 stores.
The Chinese car market has been scorching-hot for a number of years now but Clarke said there is one potentially limiting factor. “The big thing for us there is that the sports-car culture doesn’t exist yet. It will, I’m sure.” The Middle Kingdom is still largely a chauffeur-driven market and cars with commodious back seats are extremely popular with upper-crust Chinese.
As for the rest of Asia Jenkins said, “There are still markets that do not yet have an Aston Martin dealer … But we’re not looking to treble or quadruple our volume.” Overall they deliver around 4,000 cars per annum, approximately a third of which are sold in the U.S.
Rarity is important and Jenkins posed an interesting question, “When’s the last time you saw an Aston Martin on the road local to you?” Clearly this mystique is part of their appeal and it’s something company executives want to maintain.
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