November 14, 2018 06:01 CET
— UPDATED: Nov. 14 10:11 CET – adds video
LONDON — Aston Martin says its first SUV, which it will call the DBX, will be the “most beautiful” ultraluxury SUV on the market. The sports-car maker expects the DBX, which will go on sale in 2020, to become its top-selling model and its success is crucial to Aston’s global expansion plans.
“One could argue that making an SUV more beautiful is not a very high bar, but our car is thing of beauty,” Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer told Automotive News Europe in a recent interview.
Aston Martin could create “beautiful dimensions” for the DBX because designers were not limited by using a shared platform when building the car, Palmer said. He was referring to the Bentley Bentayga, which uses Volkswagen Group’s MLB architecture like its siblings, the Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and Q8, and VW Touareg. The DBX uses an adaptation of Aston’s new bonded aluminum sports car platform.
Aston’s SUV keeps the name of the DBX concept unveiled at the 2015 Geneva auto show. The concept was a three-door but the production model will have five doors. “In pure dimension terms there is little resemblance,” Palmer said of the production model. He described it as the “GT of SUVs” with a lower height compared to rival models such the Bentayga and Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
Aston Martin released pictures of a DBX underoing tests in the hills of Wales on tough roads used for rally races. The SUV will undergo further tests in some of the world’s harshest environments such as the frozen Arctic, Middle East deserts, high Alpine passes, German highways and Nuerburgring’s Nordschleife, the automaker said in a news release.
The DBX uses an adaptation of Aston’s new bonded aluminum sports car platform.
The DBX is keenly awaited by Aston Martin dealers in the key markets of the UK and U.S., said Max Warburton, an analyst for Bernstein Research. “The DBX cannot come soon enough,” he wrote in a recent note to investors.
Aston Martin dealers have already been shown the finished design and were enthusiastic. “It’s beautiful, absolutely beautiful,” Warburton quoted one UK dealer as saying.
Dealers have voiced concern that quality could be an issue because the DBX is an entirely new vehicle for Aston built in a new plant in St Athan, near Cardiff in Wales, about 225 km (140 miles) southeast of Aston’s only current factory in Gaydon, central England.
Based on dealer reports, the DBX is expected to start at 170,000 pounds ($221,615), Warburton said.
The car is expected to use the Daimler-sourced twin-turbocharged V-8 engine, Aston Martin wrote in its share prospectus earlier this year.
The DBX will help the automaker to increase annual sales above 10,000 by 2021, Aston Martin predicts. Last year the brand sold 5,100 cars.
VIDEO: Aston Martin tests the DBX concept in Wales
Aston said last month it expects to sell 3,850 DBXs a year, compared with annual sales of 3,250 for the newly launched Vantage entry sports car.
The DBX will widen Aston Martin’s customer base to include new demographics, for example women, as well as winning new customers in markets such as China, the company has said.
Aston Martin is expanding its dealer count in China to 20 by the end of the year from 16 now, with a possible 8 to 10 more ahead of the DBX launch, Palmer said. “Broadly speaking we will double in volume so we can justify that,” he said.
China accounts for about 6 percent of Aston’s total volume but sales are held back because wealthy Chinese customers prefer much roomier vehicles than the sports cars the automaker currently sells.
The DBX will have a head start in China on Ferrari which has pushed back the launch of its first SUV to 2022. “Our strategy of moving east is built upon taking advantage of Ferrari’s delay to their SUV,” Palmer said.
Ferrari has said that its SUV will be called the Purosangue (Italian for thoroughbred). “Having now seen the wonderful design and the extraordinary features I am a hugely enthusiastic supporter,” Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri said at the presentation of the company’s new business plan in September.
Aston Martin has just emerged from an information blackout period imposed after the company floated just over a quarter of its shares on the London Stock Exchange in October. The value of the shares initially slid 23 percent but rose again and are now currently 11 percent down on the start price.
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