Luxury Institute News

May 7, 2014

The $99,000 Aston Martin: End Of An Era Or New Beginning?

By: Hannah Elliott
Forbes
May 7, 2014

Change has shifted into a new gear at Aston Martin, the 101-year-old bastion of posh British motorsports. And a decade from now the manufacturer of James Bond’s most famous automobile may more closely resemble its counterparts in Munich and Stuttgart than its English forebears.

Last month at the New York Auto Show the company unveiled its 2015 Vantage GT, a 430-horsepower variation of the bestselling Vantage line. What made Aston Martin’s debut so memorable was neither the strength of its V-8 engine nor the pleasing slope of the GT’s hood. It was the sticker shock.

Aston’s latest toy is the first model in decades to cost less than $100,000–in the base version, at least–and is positioned to open up a new customer for the Gaydon-based automaker. The $99,000 Vantage GT will presumably appeal to those who might have previously thought Aston Martin was out of reach.

“We’d like to sell a few more cars, and we believe this will offer an opportunity to broaden our appeal and bring more customers to the brand,” Julian Jenkins, Aston Martin’s president of the Americas, said at the show. (Last year Aston Martin sold 4,200 cars, an increase of 11%.)

The new GT, slated only for North America, is a more athletic version of the Vantage that skips luxury ornamentation and saves buyers $20,000 in the process. It maintains the sleek sculpture, halogen headlamps and interior technological trappings of the main Vantage line (those cars start around $120,000) but offers a new 4.7-liter V-8 engine that gets 10hp more than the standard Vantage and races to 60mph in 4.6 seconds, with a top speed of 190mph. Buyers can choose between a 6-speed manual transmission (an ever increasing rarity) and a 7-speed automated manual gearbox. Sport exhaust and sport suspension come standard.

The Vantage, which was launched in 2005, has been Aston Martin’s most successful line, having sold more than 30,000 units to date–not a lot compared to BMW and Mercedes and not enough to keep Aston Martin exactly flush with cash. (It reported an operating profit of a mere $1.5 million in 2013.) But that hasn’t deterred the company from moving full-speed ahead into new markets. “Vantage was a tremendous success for us,” Jenkins said. “So we wanted to create another really sporty car which would appeal to the sportier buyer.”

The real trick, though, will be to position the new Vantage as a less expensive Aston without making it seem like a lesser Aston. The automaker certainly isn’t chasing the masses, but it is targeting a larger group in order to double its sales.

“You can offer an entry-level product, but you also must revamp and enhance your higher-level offerings as well,” says Milton Pedraza, founder of the Manhattan-based Luxury Institute. “Your upper-tier-level offerings must be extremely competitive, and then you’ve got to throw that halo effect continuously on your entry-level sports car.”

Click the link to see the entire article: http://http://www.forbes.com/sites/hannahelliott/2014/05/07/the-99000-aston-martin/

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