We spoke to Matthew Clarke at Aston Martin to hear, among other things, about the Cygnet, Lagonda, One-77, and Astons growing presence across the Globe.
Aston Martin was recently named the coolest brand in the UK by CoolBrands. This is, perhaps, unsurprising, yet what is surprising is that the company continues to expand rapidly in an era where so many other British institutions seem to be quietly melting away. Matthew Clarke gives us an insight into why this is the case. Enjoy.
What do you hope to have shown the world at Frankfurt?
At Frankfurt we had our largest ever motor show stand and collection of modern Aston Martins which demonstrates how far the company has come and the depth of the model range now 15 cars, ranging from a 1.2m supercar to a luxury city car. We also showed the new V12 Zagato for the first time at a mainstream event which will go into production as a road car next year and the new DBS Carbon Edition, plus for many it was the first time to see a production One-77 in person.
The V12 Zagato has seen Aston Martin and Zagato team up to produce a stunningly attractive car to mark their 50 year partnership. Should we expect to see further collaboration in the near future?
In the 50th anniversary year of such an iconic car from our history it was the right time for us to do something with Zagato again and we think V12 Zagato is a fitting car to continue the partnership but nothing beyond this project has been discussed.
Would it be fair to describe the One-77 as Aston Martins Veyron moment, in the sense that it has been built to showcase cutting edge engineering as opposed to being a viable commercial asset in the long term?
The One-77 is the ultimate expression of what Aston Martin stands for but of course, like all of cars, it has to be commercially viable too.
Has the Rapide been the success you hoped it would be, and where have you been selling most of them?
We have always been very encouraged by customer reaction to the Rapide and as 2011 is the first full year of production this will be very important. Generally, sales of Rapide are in keeping with our global sales trends 30% US, 30% UK, 30% Europe and 10% Asia Pacific and Middle East, but we are moving towards a more 25/25/25/25 split between those markets now, buoyed by emerging markets such as China where the Rapide is particularly popular.
If thats the case, then will you continue to invest heavily in your facility at Gaydon?
Gaydon will house Rapide production from summer 2012 and V12 Zagato production will also start here at around the same time. This will bring a total of 10 major production cars (plus five variants) brought to production at the facility since we moved here in 2003 which underlines our commitment.
Some eyebrows were raised when it was announced that Aston Martin would be making a city runabout. The Cygnet seems to have polarised public opinion. Have your customers bought into the concept?
We are very encouraged by the customer reaction to the Cygnet and current sales split is roughly 70% existing and 30% new customers.
How do you expect your newly gained import license to China to affect the company over the next five years?
China is clearly an important market for us and Asia as a whole is our fastest growing sales region. We have taken our time to gradually establish ourselves in the region and find the right dealer partners we now have a network of four dealers which we expect to double in the next 12 months and by 2012 we see the potential for 800-1000 sales per year in China.
Finally, provided you gain the relevant funding, what type of market would a new Lagonda be targeted at?
As we said when we presented the original concept in 2009, Lagonda is a long-term aim and nothing has changed in that respect. If we were to pursue the Lagonda project in essence it would allows us to develop cars with different characteristics as to those we produce with Aston Martin and would allow us to attract new customers in new territories; it would broaden our appeal.