Zagato Volante Just a First Step for Aston Martin

British marque planning ambitious mix of sports cars, crossovers, EVs and more.

by on Aug.23, 2016

The $745,000 Aston Martin Zagato Volante will be one of a steady stream of specialty models.

It didn’t take long for Aston Martin to sell out the limited edited Vanquish coupe it revealed earlier this year, and despite – or perhaps because of – its $745,000 price tag, the British maker is hoping for a similar response to the Vanquish Zagato Volante that made its debut over the weekend.

The 592-horsepower convertible is the latest in a string of new models and variants from the long-struggling British maker best known for its long, supporting role in the 007 film series. Flush with new cash, its new management team has outlined an aggressive strategy that calls for a major expansion of the Aston Martin product portfolio which, by decade’s end, will include an all-new mix of sports cars, limited-edition exotics, and even a crossover and a battery-electric vehicle.

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“The plan is to replace all our existing cars moving onto a line-up that is all-new,” said Simon Sproule, Aston Martin’s chief marketing officer.

(Click Here to check out the new, 1,500 hp Bugatti Chiron.)

From the current mix of four distinct model lines, Aston expects to have seven by the end of the six-year plan put in place by CEO Andy Palmer, a former global product planner for Nissan. And the marque is making plans to expand even further when it moves onto its next long-range plan in 2021.

The Volante follows a coupe version to market and Aston hopes it also will be a quick sell-out.

The centerpiece of the strategy is the introduction of mainstream products, such as the new DB11 sports car that replaces the old DB9 – and which took some of its design cues from the one-off Aston Martin DB10 that was featured in the most recent James Bond adventure, SPECTRE. The DB11 rolls into showrooms this month, noted Sproule.

“Sports cars remain at the center of our portfolio,” he stressed, during an interview at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. And, if all goes according to plan, Aston hopes to be selling about 7,000 of them a year before the current plan wraps up.

That would be more than double the roughly 3,000 Aston sold last year, and about in line with the record 7,300 sports cars the marque moved in 2007, before the global economic meltdown and the start of Aston’s own, potentially life-threatening financial problems.

Last year, Aston lined up a £200 million, or roughly $300 million, cash infusion from its key shareholders – a mix of Kuwaiti and Italian investors, as well as Germany’s Daimler AG — money that it will use to build several new models including a production version of the DBX crossover.

First shown at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, it will be Aston’s first-ever sport-utility vehicle. Set to reach market in 2019, it will compete with a collection of upscale utes from brands as diverse as Bentley, Lamborghini and even Rolls-Royce.

The concept version of the Aston Martin DBX. The production model will go with four doors.

“It’s going to be the hottest segment in the luxury market,” said Sproule. “As with the mainstream market, that’s what people want to drive.”

The DBX is expected to become Aston’s most popular product line, the maker planning on it to bring total global sales to around 10,000 units annually. To put that into comparison, Ferrari is pushing to boost its global volume to around 7,500 vehicles a year.

Another potentially lucrative area of growth will come from the long-awaited return of the Lagonda brand, a name expected to adorn a series of large luxury vehicles to compete against the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley.

The Lagonda name likely won’t reach market until after the current 6-year plan wraps up in 2021, however. And it is a risky venture considering others have tried and failed to enter that segment, including Daimler with its Maybach brand.

(Click Here for a look at the exotic new Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 concept.)

Daimler’s modest relationship could grow in the years ahead. If nothing else, the German maker’s Mercedes-AMG unit will supply Aston with a new 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8. That will complement the all-new 5.2-liter twin-turbo V-12 Aston has developed on its own.

Daimler is also supplying Aston the underlying electrical architecture that will help its new products add the sort of infotainment and high-tech safety gear needed to compete in today’s market.

For such a small manufacturer, Aston has yet more surprises in store. It is currently developing an all-electric version of its four-door Rapide model. And Sproule told TheDetroitBureau.com the maker will be looking at electrifying the DBX next. Plug-in hybrids may very well follow as Aston addresses the increasingly stringent fuel economy and emissions laws going into effect around the world.

Aston Martin is partnering with Red Bull racing to design a new beast of a vehicle that could be the fastest street-legal car in the world.

The fifth product segment in its line-up is the purview of its new Special Operations unit. Its goal is to come up with high-cost, low-volume models like the Zagato Volante and the Vulcan ultracar – of which just 24 were produced, each going for $2 million.

There’ll also be a new hypercar, the AM-RB001, a joint project teaming Aston with its new Formula One racing partner, Red Bull,

(Click Here for more on the AM-RB001.)

Taking into account all the various products and variants in the works, Sproule said Aston Martin expects to roll out an all-new or significantly updated model every nine months through 2021, with two special editions every year.

“The key,” he said, “is to generate enough (cash) that we can become self-funding.”

It’s a stretch target, and one that would have generated plenty of skepticism just a few years ago. But Aston has been doing a better job of delivering on its promises since hitting bottom, and that gives observers hope that, this time, it can pull off its admittedly ambitious plans.

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