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Auto blogWed, 06 Aug 2014 18:01:00 EST
As part of an increasingly close partnership, Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler is reportedly preparing to increase its stake in Aston Martin by another one percent, bringing the German automaker's shares in the British company up to five percent.
The rapprochement between the two has been in the works for years now, and is finally beginning to take form. Mercedes-AMG is in the midst of developing a new engine with and for Aston Martin in an apparently similar arrangement to that which it has with Pagani. But that's not the extent of it.
Daimler will also furnish Aston Martin with electrical systems and other components, said to lead up to the eventual sharing of platforms: one to underpin future GTs and another to serve as the basis for a long-mooted Aston Martin crossover, now said to be back on the table and slated to launch in 2017. The prospect of using the partnership to reinvigorate both the Lagonda and Maybach luxury brands, however, has since been taken off the table, with both parties continuing those projects independently.
Aston Martin has a very interesting future ahead of it. While the British brand appeared to be struggling with aging tech for a while, fresh investment from Daimler may have shown a light toward the future with the brand getting engines and electronics from them. Also, former Renault-Nissan top exec Andy Palmer has jumped ship from the French/Japanese automaker to become CEO of the much smaller sports car company. Interestingly, though, new reports from unnamed Nissan sources have indicated that Palmer has been pushing to work with AM for years.
Three unnamed company insiders told Reuters that Palmer made attempts to convince Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn in 2012 and 2013 to invest in Aston Martin, but his proposals were shot down both times for unspecified reasons, according to Automotive News. "We looked carefully at the proposal but we passed on it," said one of the sources.
You can easily see why Palmer was eying Aston Martin even back in 2012. It's no secret that the British sports car mavens were in need of extra funding, well before the Daimler investment. Building vehicles these days is only getting more expensive with stronger safety and emissions requirements. Just look at the brand's desperate hope to get a side-impact crash exemption to keep selling its models in the US as an example.
The Aston Martin Lagonda SUV concept revealed at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show didn't earn the plaudits the company is used to when it reveals new models, and it has lived an uncertain life ever since. Thought to have been scrapped along with the entire revival of the Lagonda brand, then thought to have been resurrected due to Chinese, Middle Eastern and Russian demand, another year passed before we heard more definitive talk about an Aston Martin expansion when AutoCar reported that the Lagonda could be built on one of Mercedes-Benz's AMG SUV platforms.
A report in Automotive News Europe indicates plans have gotten serious, its unnamed sources saying that the English carmaker is talking to Daimler "to extend their cooperation to building an SUV." Neither Daimler, Aston Martin nor Investindustrial, the managing partner among Aston Martin's ownership consortium, would comment. But with Investindustrial having pledged to expand the range, competitors like Bentley, Maserati and Lamborghini getting into the SUV racket and clear demand from current and future customers, it's easy to believe Aston Martin is working hard to put the pieces together.
One further potential bump on the road to an Aston SUV is the company's search for a new CEO. Ulrich Bez relinquished to top spot at the company at the end of 2013, and Aston reportedly will not finalize its model strategy without a new CEO in place.