Things are tough at Aston Martin. They've been tough for a while. While their cars are still extremely competitive, and pretty, the lineup is starting to get old. They've also been losing money for years. The answer is to raise capital to expand that lineup, which could very well include... SUVs. The horror!
Reuters reports that sources familiar with the matter say Aston is preparing to raise funds by issuing shares or bonds with the goal of bringing in some $156 million to $234 million in new capital. Those funds will be used to "expand its range of models into new areas including SUVs," the report says.
They'll need it. Here's why:
Held back by its aging models and weak investment, the company has missed out on a luxury car boom that saw the global market almost double in five years. Last year it delivered 4,200 cars — far short of a pre-financial crisis peak of 7,300 in 2007.
[...] The push faces toughening competition, with Maserati and Bentley already moving into SUVs. Besides the Maserati expansion, Fiat Chrysler has said Ferrari's annual production cap of 7,000 vehicles should increase.
Aston Marin is entering into a new partnership with Daimler that includes AMG engines; the story says there is also the possibility of using Mercedes SUV platforms for future cars.
Okay, despite the feigned shock in my headline and lede as an attempt at being funny, I'm actually in favor of this plan. I really am.
Remember that Porsche in the 1990s was losing money regularly until the 996, Boxster and then especially the Cayenne came along. The latter has been a strong seller and huge moneymaker for the brand, as have the subsequent Panamera and Macan. Everyone knows how this goes: We tolerate the sacrilegious sedans and SUVs so we can get our GT3s and the like.
I honestly have no problem with Aston Martin doing the same thing if it means they can stay in business and keep making the sports cars we love. Besides: if Aston did make an SUV, odds are it would look really amazing and be a strong performer.
Then again, the four-door Rapide hasn't exactly been the brand's Panamera, so branching out isn't some instant guarantee of success. They have to do it right, and I hope they will.