Aston Martin’s future looked murky under private ownership after it was cast off by Ford in 2007. The British icon had an aging lineup and seemingly little chance to weather the looming economic storm and transform into a modern automaker. Nearly a decade later, Aston has defied doubters and reaffirmed its independence, which was embodied by the 600-horsepower DB11 revealed this week at the Geneva Motor Show.
This high-powered sports car is a microcosm of Aston’s strategy and capabilities. The 5.2-liter V12 was developed in-house and uses twin turbochargers to outgun the old naturally aspirated 6.0-liter 12-cylinder. The aluminum platform and sleek, contemporary design are all Aston. These are the pillars of its so-called second century plan.
“This is not only the most important car that Aston Martin has launched in recent history, but also in its 103-year existence,” CEO Andy Palmer said in a statement. “The DB11 rightfully places Aston Martin once again as a leading brand in the luxury automotive market.”
Aston also knows its limitations under private stewardship, which is why it tapped partner Daimler for the infotainment system. The German giant holds five percent of Aston, which is owned by a Kuwaiti consortium and an Italian equity group. Aston leadership chose the areas that defined the company’s future and outsourced the non-essentials. That strategy allowed it to focus on making
the DB11 true to the company’s heritage. Sure, it faces challenges against stiff competition from high-end sports-car makers, but it’s already gaining traction.
“[It] will have to prove the company’s new platform and powertrain technology while generating solid profits,” IHS analyst Tim Urquhart wrote in a research note. “However, the omens for Aston are good, with over 1,000 advanced orders already.”
Even though Aston has ambitious plans to expand its product portfolio with a crossover and electrified vehicles, the DB11 remains the flagship. In 2007, many would have questioned if this car was even possible. Now the question is: What’s next?