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Auto blogMon, 08 Sep 2014 14:15:00 EST
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.
A pair of head-turning high performance cars are catching some attention off a different kind, in the form of safety recalls. Aston Martin and Lotus have issued recalls for the V12 Vantage Coupe and Evora, respectively.
Aston Martin's affects 169 examples of the 2009-2012 V12 Vantage Coupe. It concerns the tire-pressure monitoring system, and is less a malfunction than it is a compliance issue. The TPMS does not alert the driver until the front tire is more than 25 percent below the recommended cold tire pressure. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 138 states that the alarm must sound when tire pressure is "equal to or less than either the pressure 25 percent below" the recommended cold inflation pressure. To address the issue, Aston Martin will notify owners and reprogram the software, free of charge.
As for Lotus, 80 supercharged Evoras have been recalled, all built between February and September, 2011. The problem involves an engine-mounted oil feed pipe, which could rupture, causing loss of engine oil or a possible fire if the oil sprays onto a hot engine.
There's been talk of late about the technical partnership between Aston Martin and the AMG division of Mercedes-Benz going beyond engines to include Mercedes sports car and SUV platforms for the English brand, perhaps as a way to kickstart the development of a Lagonda SUV. But AMG CEO Tobias Moers, speaking to Top Gear, said that's effectively out of the question because, "No one has the time to discuss any more involvement than that for now."
Moers believes Aston Martin will be so busy "for the next two to three years" integrating its AMG-sourced engine and electronics that it won't have the resources to devote to working out a platform-sharing deal; Daimler sources have already said that Aston Martin's development budget "just isn't enough" to even consider a whole new model, and that greater cooperation would require something like a larger ownership stake in the boutique sports car maker.
AMG, in the meantime, is busy with the recent launch of the GLA45 AMG, the coming C63 AMG and its rumored 4.0-liter V8, the Mercedes-AMG GT and its assault on the Porsche 911 among who-knows-what other skunkworks projects. Moers said the technical partnership is about profit for AMG, clear and simple, and, "All these rumors about platform sharing are nice but no one at Aston or Mercedes has the time to discuss them."