As it moves forward with plans to launch its first-ever sport-utility vehicle, Aston Martin is reportedly looking at a number of different options for a new assembly plant, including at least one site in the United States, as well as one in the Mideast.
Unveiled in concept form at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, the production version of the Aston Martin DBX is expected to become one of the British maker’s most important models ever, at least from a volume standpoint. It will go up against a fast-growing assortment of luxury SUVs, ranging from the new Bentley Bentayga to the Lamborghini Urus.
“The new factory is intended to give us the capacity to build the DBX crossover, which comes around the turn of the decade,” Simon Sproule, Aston’s global marketing chief, tells TheDetroitBureau.com. “At present, (we are) aiming to confirm the site in the coming few weeks – either side of the New Year. Sites are still under review but do include U.S., UK and locations ‘to the east of the UK’”
Aston officials earlier this year lined up about $300 million in new financing for an assortment of new products, including the DBX. It is unclear whether the maker will need additional cash to cover the cost of a new assembly plant.
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Currently, all Aston Martin products are produced in Great Britain, but with the volume aspirations for the DBX – expected to run as high as 5,000 annually – Aston would need to expand its manufacturing base.
Earlier this year, Aston officials said they were considering 19 possible manufacturing locations. That “East of the UK” opportunity apparently would include the Middle East, reflecting the influence of the Kuwaiti private equity company that is one of Aston’s major investors.
As for the U.S., that apparently is focused on Alabama where several automakers already operate assembly lines, including Honda, Hyundai and luxury competitor Aston Martin.
The DBX is the pet project of Andy Palmer, the former global product chief at Nissan who became Aston Martin CEO in 2014. It will be joined by a number of other new products, including an all-electric version of the four-door Rapide sports car, creating what Palmer has called, “the strongest portfolio in our history.”
(Click Here to check out the Aston Martin RapidE battery-electric sports car.)
Putting together the product expansion program was a challenge for the CEO, however. Aston Martin has lost money for the last four years and was running out of cash until Palmer and his team lined up a new capital infusion from both Italian-based Investindustrial and Aston’s other lead shareholder, Kuwaiti-based Tejara Capital.
“This additional long-term funding, will enable us to add extra model lines and broaden our presence in the luxury market segment by the end of the decade,” said Palmer in a statement last May.
Aston sales peaked at about 7,300 in 2007, before crashing during the global economic downturn. They returned to 3,661 last year and have continued to grow in 2015. But the maker is targeting 15,000 sales annually by 2020, with the DBX expected to make up the single-largest share.
Aston isn’t the only maker betting on the luxury sport-utility market. One of the most direct competitors for the DBX will be Lamborghini’s upcoming Urus model – which is also expected to become the Italian maker’s single-largest seller. Lamborghini is also setting up an entirely new assembly line for the ute, though it will be based alongside the maker’s current site in Sant’Agate, near Modena.
(Click Here for a closer look at the new Bentley Bentayga.)