Aston Martin sees recent non-automotive concepts as brand extensions

November 30, 2018 06:01 CET

LOS ANGELES — In the past year, Aston Martin has unveiled two unique concepts that go beyond hand-built, ultraluxury cars: a small personal aircraft and a small personal submersible.

But that doesn’t mean the British luxury automaker is abandoning the automotive industry. Rather, the aircraft and submersible are extensions of Aston Martin’s traditional automotive brand, said Laura Schwab, president of Aston Martin the Americas, during a presentation here ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show.

“In a hundred years, will Aston Martin be a car company? Well, we have a 105-year history as an automotive company and I think it will take a long time for a business like ours that’s been traditionally automotive, to truly change,” said Schwab. “Some of our customers’ most fantastic emotions and pleasures have come experiencing Aston Martin [vehicles] or being in an Aston Martin. I think in the foreseeable future, that will remain the case.”

Schwab said Aston Martin is working on ways to facilitate futuristic travel for its customers, many of which are known for wanting to head to an exotic locale on a moment’s notice.

The automaker describes the Volante Vision concept as a “luxury personal aircraft” with room for three adults that can take off and land vertically.

“Personal flight will give our customers a new dimension of freedom, well beyond the luxury of today’s private air travel,” she said.

Project Neptune, a venture with Triton Submarines, is a luxurious submersible for two passengers and a pilot and is a more “stealth expression of wealth,” Schwab noted, with a focus on exploration.

Schwab pointed to examples in Amazon and Google as two companies that started in one industry before evolving and expanding into others.

“In the space of 20 years, Amazon went from selling books to becoming one of the world’s largest, if not the largest, online retailers,” she said. “Google used to be viewed more like the white pages, you used it to look up people’s phone numbers. Wonderful brands evolve, and we’ve already started to.”

But despite that evolution beyond cars, Schwab said, Aston Martin doesn’t see “automotive” as a “bad word.”

The automaker is in the midst of a product push of bringing seven vehicles to market in seven years. Just two weeks ago, Aston Martin revealed the first photos of its DBX crossover being tested, a vehicle that Schwab said will propel Aston Martin into new territory.

Said Schwab: “We know that everything about Aston Martin — the look, the smell, the acceleration, handling — it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Who would want to live a life without that?”

You can reach Jack Walsworth at jwalsworth@crain.com.

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