Daily Management Review

Aston Martin will Lead with Ultra-Luxury Electric Vehicles, Forget Tesla: CEO


Aston Martin will Lead with Ultra-Luxury Electric Vehicles, Forget Tesla: CEO
While there is a hype surrounding the great race for electric vehicle and as dominance in that market took center stage at the Paris Motor Show this week, not everyone agrees with the hype. 
The road to fully-fledged electrification will be a long one, believes Andy Palmer, chief executive of Aston Martin, which opted out of the Paris spectacle this year along with super-luxury rivals Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Lamborghini.
"It's going to take a while, for sure. You've got a difficult circle to break, you need volume," he told CNBC.
The headache of costly EV production is known all too well by Palmer, a self-proclaimed believer in EV technology. He oversaw the Nissan Leaf electric-car program in his former tenure as an Executive Vice-President at the Japanese automaker.
"The market has gone toward midsized cars where you don't have that pricing capability and as a consequence it's difficult to cover the costs," he says.
According to Palmer, in pole position to lead the space is put by this for Aston Martin and the brand's luxury rivals.
The Aston Martin RapidE, which is expected to hit the market in 2018, is being brought out by the UK-based manufacturer which has teamed up with Chinese technology company LeEco for the development of the electric sedan. The way for Aston Martin "to be a trailblazer in luxury electrics" has been paved and smoothened as rivals Ferrari, Bentley and Rolls-Royce have failed to bring a fully-fledged EV model to the market, Palmer points out.
The back of Aston Martin DB11 does not have a flip-up spoiler. Instead, the car has been provided with more high-speed stability and less drag by the design that has the “Classic GT look”, said Aston Martin's chief exterior designer Miles Nürnberger.
And the RapidE is in a league of its own when it comes to Tesla's Model S, Palmer claims. "I would argue that Tesla fits in the premium market, competing with the likes of BMW and Mercedes. Aston sits above that," Palmer says.
 Nevertheless, market-watchers see the electric model as just window-dressing as Aston Martin pours resources into the new DB 11 for a company struggling to reverse six years of losses to become profitable by 2018.
The company will make a bigger push into robotics and 3D printing as part of the profitability drive, Palmer told the Financial Times' manufacturing summit in London. Affectionately known as the "James Bonder", the Warwickshire factory currently boasts just one robot.
Aston Martin is seeking to capitalise on its reputation for bespoke, luxury craftsmanship with a presence in yachts, clothing and leather accessories and ironically the pivot toward automation comes at such a time.
"We want to be the Hermes of the auto business," Palmer told CNBC.
Palmer acknowledged that should the shareholders eventually give the green light for an initial public offering, the move "undoubtedly helps with the EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxation depreciation, and amortisation) multiple."