Aston Martin launches SUV hoping for U-turn in fortunes

Luxury carmaker hopes the $203,814 DBX will help overcome this year's $119m pre-tax losses.

    Aston Martin hopes its new DBX, the company's first sport utility vehicle, will turn around the firm's flagging fortunes [Jason Lee/Reuters]
    Aston Martin hopes its new DBX, the company's first sport utility vehicle, will turn around the firm's flagging fortunes [Jason Lee/Reuters]

    Aston Martin is a brand synonymous with classic British-style and automotive power, even if it may have struggled with sales this year.

    But James Bond's favourite carmaker's latest offering is more off-road than undercover.

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    The Warwickshire-based marque has launched its first sports utility vehicle in a bid to pull a handbrake turn in its fortunes after a year which has seen its share price crash 75 percent.

    "I can't emphasise enough how incredibly exciting and significant DBX is for Aston Martin," said Aston Martin Lagonda president and group chief executive, Andy Palmer.

    "Through its development alone, this beautiful SUV has already taken the company into new territories and in inspiring directions."

    The 158,000 pound ($203,814) DBX goes on sale on Wednesday, though the first orders will not be delivered until next year.

    Other specialist automotive firms such as Porsche and Lamborghini have previously enjoyed success by launching SUVs.

    The firm described its first full-size five-seat vehicle as being "extremely adaptable to a wide variety of lifestyle needs and owners".

    It offers "equal space and comfort" for passengers in the front and rear, with "class-leading" headroom and legroom.

    The vehicle has a top speed of 307 kilometres per hour (191 miles per hour) and can accelerate from 0 to 100km/h (62mph) in 4.5 seconds.

    Aston Martin SUV - reuters
    Aston Martin showed off its DBX sport utility vehicle in Beverly Hills, California, last month [Joe White/Reuters]

    "This is a real landmark for this great British brand and I promise that DBX will reward all who experience it in their everyday lives," said Palmer.

    Aston Martin has gone bankrupt seven times in its 106-year history and has had multiple owners over the past century, including Ford.

    Now largely owned by Kuwaiti and Italian private equity groups, the company has been hit most recently by falling demand in Europe and for its Vantage model - leading it to report a pre-tax loss of 92 million pounds ($119m) in the first nine months of this year.

    But Aston Martin has ploughed money into a new factory in St Athan, near the Welsh capital, Cardiff, which will build the new DBX SUV model from next year.

    "We're essentially holding the cost of a complete factory right now, without the benefit of the revenues coming in ... so from that point of view, of course, it's a really important model," Palmer told Reuters News Agency earlier this month.

    Aston hopes to encourage more women buyers with its new offering and has received input from a female advisory body on the choice of certain features such as separate central armrests and the design of the glovebox.

    The first trial build of the DBX has been completed, with production due in the second quarter of 2020 which the company hopes will contribute to a boost to its output, alongside sports cars made at its headquarters.

    "If our volumes are slightly north of 6,000 this year, obviously you're adding another ultimately 4 or 5,000 so it's a big chunk of volume for us," said Palmer

    SOURCE: News agencies