Earlier this year, James Bond’s favourite automaker, prestige British marque Aston Martin, gave the world the biggest hint to date that the days of the internal combustion engine are numbered: it unveiled an all-electric concept car called the Aston Martin DBX.
Sexy, sleek and packed full of technology, the Aston Martin DBX Concept not only wooed audiences at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show, but also sent a clear message to the rest of the automotive world that unlike other prestige automakers, Aston Martin was eager and willing to embrace the electrified revolution. And with former Nissan executive and known electric car advocate Andy Palmer at the helm, we saw no need to doubt that message.
Palmer has been CEO of Aston Martin just over fourteen months now, but in that time, Palmer has confirmed an all-electric Aston Martin RapidE by 2017 and confirmed that the days of diesel are numbered. As if to prove its commitment to electrified vehicles, the British firm is now rumored to be close to picking the site of a brand-new purpose-built factory, where it will not only build a production version of the DBX but begin a comeback that it hopes will turn around the struggling firm.
According to Automotive News (subscription required) a source close to the luxury automaker said that Aston Martin has now compiled a short list of potential locations to site its new state of the art production facility. Two are in the UK, but two other sites — one in Alabama and one in the Middle East — could see the British brand leave its traditional roots and seek out pastures new elsewhere.
Currently, Aston Martin only has one production facility in Gaydon, Warwickshire. Located adjacent to one of Jaguar Land Rover’s production facilities and a short drive away from the British Motor Museum (formerly known as the Heritage Motor Centre) Aston Martin’s existing production facilities are where the Automaker will begin production of the DB11 next year.
But the company, which has lost money in each of the last four years, is undergoing something of an expansion program. Designed to reinvent the brand and redefine it for modern premium customers, Aston is eager to leave behind its gas-guzzling past and set itself up as a competitor to Tesla Motors — as well as forget the errors in judgment of recent years like the Aston Martin Cygnet.
Never heard of the Aston Martin Cygnet? That’s because it was a disastrous attempt by Aston Martin to produce a city car for its wealthy London clients which was frugal, met the requirements for congestion charging exemption in central London, but was nevertheless a prestige vehicle.
That, and ensure that Aston Martin met compliance with tough corporate average fuel economy targets for European cars.
Rather than build a vehicle from scratch, Aston Martin took the Toyota (Scion) IQ minicar, removed the interiors, and rebuild them specifically for their high-end clients. Then it sold them at a £20,000 markup. In total, it sold just 150 examples.
But we digress. While the UK town of Sutton Coldfield, a little over 4o miles from Aston Martin’s Gaydon headquarters, is said to be the current favourite among Aston Martin executives, it and the other undisclosed potential site have some tough competition. Speaking earlier this year about the eventual site where the all-electric DBX will be built, Palmer had admitted that while he would like to see production remain in the UK, potential financial incentives from overseas contenders would be an important part of the decision making process.
Consequently, we can conclude that both the Middle East (possibly Saudi Arabia) and Alabama, U.S. are both offering some form of incentive to the British automaker to move overseas.
When the location is finally set, an expected 1,000 jobs will be created, specifically to assemble around 5,000 DBX crossovers per year once the car launches in a few years’ time.
While specifications have yet to be tied down, we’re hoping Aston Martin will offer a decent three-figure top speed and sub 3-second 0-60 time in order to remain competitive against the legendary Tesla Model S. Assuming its design remains similar to that of the concept car, the production DBX could also be one of the first cars to feature all-round cameras in place of traditional rear-view mirrors, as well as head up displays for both driver and front passenger.
Where do you think the Aston Martin DBX should be built? More importantly, do you think it will have what it takes to save Aston Martin from financial ruin and redefine the brand for the 21st Century?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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