Aston’s V12 survival plan

EVs coming but V12s, manuals will remain says CEO

AS ASTON Martin enters the busiest period in its 104-year history, CEO Andy Palmer promises hardcore enthusiasts will be well catered for in his ‘Second Century plan’ with powerful internalcombustion engines and the manual gearbox both forming an important part of the strategy.

Speaking to MOTOR ahead of the recent Melbourne F1 Grand Prix, Palmer stated at least one model in the future range will have the option of a manual and that V12 engines will remain on the menu for as long as possible.

Aston currently offers a manual gearbox in the Vantage – sixspeed in the V8, seven-speed in the V12 – and Palmer said future offerings would be a development of these ’boxes.

“For the volumes that we have, we couldn’t justify developing a new ’box,” explained Palmer. “So everything we do will probably be an update of the current six- and seven-speed ’boxes. I kind of like the dog-leg first [gear, which appears on the seven-speed V12 Vantage S] and it goes all the way back to the ’70s with the V8 Vantage, so it speaks to the history and no-one else does it so that becomes the standard gate going forward.”

Just which model will feature the DIY shift option is unclear.

The new Vantage, due to appear before the end of 2017, is the most likely candidate, however that will depend on whether a manual gearbox can be adapted to work with the 4.0-litre twin-turbo AMG V8 and as-yet-unspecified V12 engine. The Vanquish replacement, due in 2018, is another option, but demand for a manual ‘super GT’ is likely non-existent.

The new Vantage and Vanquish are the next steps in Palmer’s re-invention of the famous British brand, which has been profitable in just two of its 104 years of existence. Attention will then turn to diversifying the range, beginning with the all-electric DBX SUV and a pair of similarly battery-powered luxury sedans, currently dubbed Lagonda 1 and Lagonda 2, to be built at a new facility in Wales.

These exclusively electric models are key to extending the life of Aston’s conventionallypowered sporting models. “You’ve only got two routes you can go,” explained Palmer. “You can either downsize your engines, or find a way of running your ‘Vee’ engines forever. The only way you can do that in an environment of CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) is a big offset, and your big offset is your battery-electric, ie, zero.”

Also on Palmer’s wishlist is a mid-engined supercar to take on McLaren and Ferrari, while two bespoke models (eg, CC100, GT12 Roadster) and two special-edition models (like the Vulcan, Vantage GT8 and GT12) each year will buoy cash flow. In order to retain exclusivity, sports car production will be capped to 7000, almost doubling Aston’s 2016 sales of 3700 cars. – SN

RAPIDE EXODUS

V12 engines are well and good, but electrification will keep such things on Aston Martin’s menu.

The Rapide, its V12 four-door coupe, will be the first sacrifice to the battery gods, Palmer recently revealing the Rapide will be electriconly .

electriconly from 2019. Yep, it’s doing away with internal combustion completely. The 2015 RapidE concept was our first hint at such a car, and details remain scarce, but Palmer is keen for it to be the world’s quickest four-door. .