Aston Martin bets big on China's craving for SUVs

Updated 2017-05-09 17:01:13 chinadaily.com.cn
Michael Peng, president of Aston Martin China, delivers a speech at the Shanghai auto show in April.

Michael Peng, president of Aston Martin China, delivers a speech at the Shanghai auto show in April.

British luxury sports carmaker Aston Martin is to launch its first-ever SUV by the end of the decade targeted at emerging economies, especially China, a country where more than two million premium cars were sold last year.

The carmaker said on its website that it is to start production of the DBX in 2019 in its second manufacturing facility at St Athan in South Wales.

Michael Peng, president of Aston Martin China, said the SUV is one pillar of the carmaker's campaign to ensure its financial viability by expanding its portfolio, and a four-door sedan is to join the SUV after 2020.

Aston Martin, which has been dedicated to producing handmade sports cars, changed hands several times because of its small sales. In the past 104 years, it delivered some 80,000 cars worldwide.

"China is central to its campaign, called the Second Century Plan, to sustain itself. In fact, the two models, the SUV and the sedan, are designed to primarily meet the needs of rising markets, especially China," said Peng.

Peng said when the SUV was first announced in 2015, there were many discussions within the company about its design.

"I want it to feature things that the Chinese people like, for example, the size, clearance, comfort and luxury, and I am sure the model is going to be a hit when it comes to China," said Peng.

A visitor takes a picture of an Aston Martin car at the Shanghai auto show in April.

China is known for its craving for SUVs, which has been the fastest-growing segment in its automobile industry. Porsche is selling more SUVs than sedans in the country and Bentley's SUV Bentayga is well received too.

Aston Martin entered China in 2011. However, without a strong affinity for sports cars like in the West, merely some 200 cars were sold last year, far fewer than in the UK and the US, where Aston Martin sells around 1,000 cars a year.

China is already the largest market for many premium brands, including Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. Peng said his boss, Aston Martin's President and CEO Andy Palmer, asked why it is not the case with their brand.

"I told him that if the brand is purely dedicated to sports cars, the current situation would remain unchanged probably forever.

"But after the two new models, the SUV and the sedan, hit the market, China is likely to become a top three market and even has the potential to be the largest market for Aston Martin in the coming years."

A visitor takes a picture of an Aston Martin car at the Shanghai auto show in April.

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