Aston Martin will make a significant shift away from the V-8s and V-12s that it long has been known for, the British carmaker’s CEO declaring that, at a “minimum,” fully half of its sales will come from all-electric product lines by 2030.
That’s major change in direction by the brand best known for its ties to cinematic spy James Bond, and reflects the ongoing turmoil roiling Aston. Former CEO Andy Palmer had been laying out plans to go electric, only to have his timetable abandoned when he was ousted 18 months ago. But Aston now seems to be caught in the broader shift to battery power sweeping through every corner of the auto industry.
“I would say a minimum of 50% of our sales will be electric, possibly more,” Aston Martin CEO Tobias Moers said this week during an automotive summit sponsored by Reuters.
Tearing up the old plans
Until now, Aston has barely dipped its toes into the battery-car market. It developed an all-electric version of its four-door model, dubbing it the Rapide E. But the “saloon car” featured a relatively short-range battery and, even at 602 horsepower, far less muscle than offered by new competitors like Tesla and Lucid, never mind the electrified products in the works at Ferrari, Lamborghini and elsewhere.
Only a limited number of Rapide E models were produced and, under former CEO Palmer, Aston began focusing on a plug-in hybrid version of the DBX, its first SUV. Meanwhile, Palmer’s “Second Century Plan” called for reviving the long-moribund Lagonda division and turning it into an all-electric sub-brand.
But the entire strategy was seemingly scrapped when Aston’s worsening finances caught up with Palmer in early 2021. The company was bailed out by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll who ousted the CEO and all but canceled any plan to revive Lagonda.
If anything, Stroll negotiated a deal expanding Aston’s existing ties to Daimler AG. The German company had begun providing its British partner with AMG V-8s and other components, including infotainment technology. And former AMG chief Moers moved to the UK to serve as Aston’s new CEO.
But Aston appears to be succumbing to the forces transforming the entire auto industry. Already, a number of luxury brands have committed to going 100% electric, including Bentley, Jaguar, Audi and Volvo. Others have begun moving in that direction, starting with BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Even Lamborghini has outlined a strategy that will see it end the long focus on V-12s and, from mid-decade forward, shift ever more into hybrid and pure electric power.
The underlying gravity comes in the form of strict new mandates from some of the key markets for high-line products. Indeed, Aston’s home, the United Kingdom, plans to allow manufacturers to sell only plug-based vehicles, starting in 2030, with even PHEVs phased out by 2035. A number of other countries in Europe have laid out similar plans, as have California and New York, two prime markets for Aston Martin.
Exactly what the British automaker has in mind, Moers isn’t yet saying. If anything, it has been hinting that the majority of its product line-up will feature some sort of electric drive technology, with as much as 45% powered by hybrid technology, with another 50% going pure electric.
That would also be in line with the direction other high-line and high-performance competitors are taking. What’s become clear is that even basic hybrid technology can be used to deliver instant power, as well as improved fuel economy.
What about Lagonda?
There are a number of other questions left unanswered. Among them: will Lagonda still be brought back to life? And, if so, will it now be electrified?
Earlier this year, a senior source at Aston said the brand is “still in our plans.” But, at that point, it wasn’t going to be electrified, as Palmer had intended. With the latest shift in Aston’s strategy, that could all change, yet again.