Thursday, June 20, 2019

Aston Martin: The path which they followed

Aston Martin is a modern, exclusive sports car brand with a unique heritage, which is instantly recognized around the world. Aston Martin has since grown to become an internationally admired luxury brand.

Aston Martin Holdings (UK) Limited was incorporated in 2007 and is based in Gaydon, United Kingdom. It has around 2,755 employees. Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. designs, manufacture and sells high-performance luxury sports cars and parts. The company offers luxury sports, coupes, convertibles, roadsters and commuter cars, as well as their associated components. The company also provides vehicle restoration and maintenance services.

The love of beauty has always been the part of the culture at Aston Martin. Over the past century, the company has stayed true to the original values of Lionel Martin who believed that an Aston Martin must be “a quality car of good performance and appearance. A car for the discerning owner driver with fast touring in mind, designed, developed, engineered and built as an individual”. This philosophy has led to the creation of some of Britain’s most iconic sports cars.

Aston Martin is also constantly looking at fresh ways to engage with its customers, a new state of the art experiences that bring the brand and the customer even closer “We want to offer a lifestyle and luxury experience that go beyond just the car.”

At the wheel

Dr Andy Palmer, CMG, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. He joined the business on October 1, 2014. Dr Palmer is a British-born chartered engineer, chartered manager and Executive Committee. He held a number of senior roles at Nissan over 23 years, including in corporate planning, product planning, marketing, sales & IT leadership and was Chairman of their luxury marque Infiniti from 2011 onwards.

Dr. Palmer started his professional career in 1979 aged 16, as an apprentice at Automotive Products Limited (UK), following which he spent six years with Austin Rover and then moved to Nissan.

Following his apprenticeship, Dr Palmer graduated from Warwick University with a Master’s Degree (M.Sc) in Product Engineering in 1990 and acquired a Doctorate (PhD) in Management from Cranfield University in 2004. He is also a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. In 2010, Coventry University awarded Dr Palmer an Honorary Doctorate of Technology and in 2014 he was appointed as a Professor, advising the university in the automotive field. He also holds the position of an Industrial Professor at Warwick University (2015), a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute CCMI (2015) and the first winner of the Cranfield University “The Distinguished Manufacturing Alumnus/ an of the Year Award” (2016). He advises the federal government in a number of areas such exports and serves as an ambassador for the highly successful Great Britain campaign.

In 2016 he was asked to be an advisor to the Prime Minister in the area of Skills and Apprenticeships. In the 2014 New Year’s Honours list, Dr Palmer has named a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in recognition of services to the British automotive industry.

Dr. Andy Palmer, CMG, President & CEO

The workshop of Pioneers

The Aston Martin history began with the efforts of Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, who founded the ‘Bamford and Martin Limited Company’ in 1913. The first Aston Martins were created with a distinctive and individual character, handcrafted to the highest of standards and capable of exceeding all performance expectations.

Both men had a passion and a talent for machines, propulsion, engines and racing. They had a shared love for the car because it provided them with the most exhilarating and memorable experiences. ‘Moments of beauty’- as they called it. Moments that they craved to create, repeat, celebrate and share. That passion drove them to hand build cars that were faster, more powerful, thrilling, comfortable – more beautiful – than the previous. 1914 saw the birth of the name ‘ASTON MARTIN’. A moment of pure driving emotion, when Lionel Martin took on the Aston Clinton Hill Climb race in Buckinghamshire, England in their latest creation and won. Within a year the first Aston Martin had been built and registered with the name and by 1920 the business had relocated to Kensington.

An unrivalled history and heritage

By 1922, the company was doing well and participated in the French Grand Prix, its first historic overseas competition breaking all records in endurance and speed. It was also during this time, the company faced numerous financial problems and even went bankrupt. But these hurdles could never stop the company from growing even bigger. 1947 saw the dawn of the ‘DAVID BROWN ERA’. In 1950, the Aston Martin announced its DB series and by 1958 released the famous DB Mark II, DB2/4 Mark II, and DB2/4 cars. Aston Martin ended the 1950s with further racing success, as the DBR1 team secured the 1959 world sports car championship by winning races such as the Nürburgring 1000 km race and the famous Le Mans 24hr. Frequently acclaimed as the most beautiful car in the world, the Aston Martin DB5 entered production in 1963. The following year saw the beginning of a longterm relationship that has left an indelible mark on popular culture, as the DB5 was chosen to be James Bond’s car of choice in the classic film ‘Goldfinger’. Following up on the success of the DB5, the DB6 and DB6 Volante was launched in 1965 and 1966 respectively. Energetic product development continued in the rest of the decade with the Aston Martin DBS, DB6 Mk2, and DBS V8 all being introduced. Throughout its life, Aston Martin often faced numerous financial difficulties leading to change of leadership now and then.

By 1972, David Brown sold Aston Martin to ‘Company Developments Ltd’. Three years later, it was sold again to another company, due to a $1.05 million debt. In 1977, the new owners pushed the company into finally letting go of the ‘grand tourer’ style and modernized its line. Therefore, the company soon introduced the convertible Volante in 1978 and the V8 Vantage in 1977.

In 1975, just three years after its last take-over, the company entered receivership and was rescued by a consortium led by Peter Sprague, George Minden and later Alan Curtis. The first car to be unveiled under this new ownership was the revolutionary ‘LAGONDA’. The same year the Aston Martin V8 entered production.
By the end of the 80s, Pace Petroleum and Victor Gauntlett acquired Aston Martin and Ford managed to purchase 75% of the company’s shares. The 007 relationship also continued with the V8 Volante appearing in ‘The Living Daylights’. In 1998 the company was presented with the Queen’s Award for export, recognizing the contribution of the firm to the UK economy. The 90s saw Virage enter into production and three years later the Ford Motor Company took complete hold of the company, purchasing 100% shares. This era for the Aston Martin was the most successful of all. In fact, Aston Martin introduced numerous famous models during Ford’s time. Some of the best vehicles include the DB7 Volante, the V8 Vantage Le Mans, DB7 Vantage, V12 Vantage, limited edition DB7 Zagato, DB9, V12 Vanquish S and DB9 Volante. Aston Martin’s new global headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire opened in 2003. By 2005, Aston Martin even returned to competitive motorsport racing and the following year saw Aston Martin reach the milestone of 30,000 production cars. The introduction of the current flagship, the Aston Martin DBS took place in 2006, as it was seen for the first time

in Daniel Craig’s James bond debut ‘Casino Royale’. Aston Martin then smashed its way into the Guinness World Record books for ‘The Most Cannon Rolls In A Car’. Consecutive GT1 class wins at Le Mans in 2007 & 2008 followed, as well as a fourthplace finish in 2009 with a new LMP1 car, the fastest petrol car in the field.

The modern era

The year 2008 saw the continued love affair with James Bond as DBS made a second James Bond appearance by featuring in ‘Quantum of Solace’. 2009 marked one of the most active years for product development in the company’s recent history. Both the V12 Vantage and the DBS Volante were launched. Vantage claimed a class victory at the Nürburgring 24-hour race on its race debut. 2009 also saw Aston Martin unveil the ultimate Aston Martin, the One-77, the most powerful naturally aspirated car in the world. In 2012, DB5 made its sixth appearance in Skyfall, which took the tally to a total of 11 Bond film appearances. Aston Martin in 2013 celebrated its 100 years of power, beauty, soul. Needless to say, 100 years of creating some of the most beautiful cars in the world is indeed worth celebrating. This is true as much today in the company’s second century as was in our first. 2013 also welcomed the world’s first Hybrid-Hydrogen race car to be raced at an international event in the form of a Rapide S, piloted, amongst others, by CEO Dr. Bez. From stunning victory in 2017 for the V8 Vantage GTE in the 24 Hours of LeMans GTE Pro Class to the technically advanced Valkyrie hypercar, Aston Martin has continued to craft innovative cars with the beauty of competitive racing at their heart.

As for now, Aston Martin is owned by 6 different organizations that have brought shares in the company. Regardless, the days of financial difficulty for the company are over and now the revenue of Aston Martin has reached £876 million. Additionally, the company has created two subsidiaries, namely Aston Martin Racing and Lagonda.

Aston Martin has been in existence for over 102 years and is now undoubtedly one of the world’s most popular car manufacturers. The Nürburgring remains the definitive engineering sign-off test for all Aston Martin road cars. It continues to race in the GTE classes of the World Endurance Championship. Additionally, after being shifted to different countries, Aston Martin is now finally back to building vehicles in Britain. Not to mention, Aston Martin has its own owner’s club and there is even a £1 million-pound vehicle created by the company.

Creating modern legacy

Aston Martin maintains a global network of 148 dealers in 41 countries. As part of the company’s ongoing expansion plans, Aston Martin has entered into Poland, Brazil, and Ukraine, with plans to open in Thailand and Mexico, while seeking continued growth in markets such as China and the Middle East. It is revealed that the final design for Aston Martin’s first ever SUV has now been fixed, a model that promises to open up major new markets for the business. Also waiting in the wings will be Aston Martin’s all-electric model, based on the Rapide, which will be the first luxury electric car on the market in 2018. Established to preserve and maintain Aston Martin’s remarkable automotive heritage, Aston Martin has a world-leading ‘Works’ facility in Newport Pagnell. Through the preservation of traditional production techniques, its highly-skilled workforce and unrivaled technical knowledge of AML products, ‘Works’ can repair, restore and service all Aston Martins ranging from post-war to the present day to the highest standards.

Although the beginning of the timeline for the history of Aston Martin saw turbulence, they managed to establish themselves. Even after facing financial crisis year after year, Aston Martin now stands as one of the best luxury and high-performance car manufacturers in the world. From their humble origins to today, on road and track, the irresistible draw of an Aston Martin endures. People all over the world seek their beautifully designed cars, cars that have always been synonymous with high performance, bespoke craftsmanship, technological innovation and timeless style. Those positives include 600 very excited Aston Martin customers, who will have picked up their new DB11 by the end of this year. Perhaps one of the most significant events for a company that prides in itself on the caliber of its workforce, the company will soon be taking possession of part of the new Welsh site that will be building this car from late 2018. These are very exciting times for Aston Martin, which is pushing innovation and style to newer heights.

“One thing will always stay constant: the importance of the people who build the cars”

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