By on November 24, 2012

This is the weekend – if the predictions of Reuters prove correct – when British sports car maker Aston Martin will get a new owner – yet again. An Italian private equity fund and an Indian company known for its off-road vehicles compete for the business.

According to Reuters, Italian private equity fund Investindustrial and India’s Mahindra & Mahindra have made competing bids for 50 percent of Aston Martin. A decision is expected over the weekend.

The current owner is the Kuwaiti investment house Dar. Two Kuwaiti investment companies, Investment Dar and Adeem Investment Co. had supplied the money, and the British engineering group Prodrive supplied the expertise  when Ford  wanted to unload Aston Martin, which it had owned since 1991.

Before Ford, Aston Martin had gone through a series of bankruptcies and different owners. All eventually found out that building supercars without the backing of a huge company is a losing proposition, and that recessions can be murder if expensive cars is all you have.

Investitudinal owned motorcycle maker Ducati before selling it to Volkswagen. The company allegedly has reached a technical partnership deal with Daimler AG’s Mercedes.

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74 Comments on “The New Aston Martin Owners Will Be Indian or Italian...”


  • avatar
    Bela Barenyi

    I’m wondering why no one of the “big boys” of the automotive industry, like Volkswagen, is interestend in Aston Martin. Or BMW, as they already own two British brands, a third would complement BMW’s brand portfolio.

    If Aston Martin were owned by VW, at least the Bond producers could try to persuade Mr. Piech to play a “super-villain” in the next Bond movie, because he has everything a Bond-villian needs: He speaks German, can look/smile sinisterly, he loves to make snarky remarks, he’s craving for status (=Großmannssucht, VW 2018 strategy), he has henchmen and he’s an engineer, so he has the knowledge to build a machine which can destroy the world or turn every car on the world into a Volkswagen.

    • 0 avatar
      tkewley

      With regard to your opening statement, a car company that makes 7000 cars in its’ best year, demands significant investment, and is very sensitive to economic downturns isn’t worth their time and effort.

      • 0 avatar
        Bela Barenyi

        You seem to forget that VW has put lots of effort and money into Bugatti. And how many cars Bugatti sells per year? Oh, I guess you also ignore the fact that VW owns Bentley… which sells how many cars per years ?

        And I guess you’ve never taken a look on Ferraris financial reports. According to you, Ferrari, a company which has similiar sales figures like Aston Martin, must be/is worthless. I suggest that you go to Mr. Marchionne and offer him a symbolic purchase price of 1 Euro for Ferrari so that he can get rid of this “burden”. I’m sooo curious to see whether you succeed…if not, you can still paint your head blue and join a certain famous group.

      • 0 avatar
        tatracitroensaab

        @Bella Ferrari makes loads of cash thru merchandising and whatnot. None of the other companies come close to having a “Ferrari brand” equivalent. The only reason that these supercar companies stay afloat is because people love the idea of owning them – it just has a glorious cache to say “I own Aston Martin.” Lamborghini for example loses VW money every year – its basically a “board toy” to keep the Audi Board of Directors from getting jealous of the VW board, which has Bugatti. These companies will stay alive for a long time, not because they are profitable but because they are loved. As long as there are investors willing to eat loses in order to say that they own a supercar manufacturer, they will stay alive, even Aston, which according to legend has never had a profitable year in its entire history.

      • 0 avatar
        tkewley

        @Bela:

        My memory is fine – but thanks for your concern.

        Bugatti, by VAG’s own admission, loses money. It’s only reasons for existing are 1) as a technical/promotional showcase, and 2) to feed Piech’s already bloated ego.

        Ferrari, on the other hand, is the exception that proves the rule. Name another car company of its’ size that is consistently profitable.

      • 0 avatar
        Austinpowerless

        It is curios, though, that does BMW sell engines to Morgan, who sell about 700 a year–not all BMW engined, either. Oh, and as to your challenge to name another car company the size of Ferrari that’s consistently profitable, well, there’s one in Malvern Link …

      • 0 avatar
        tkewley

        @Austinpowerless –
        By your own figures, Morgan is one-tenth the size of Ferrari. Since it’s (very) privately held, no one whose last name isn’t Morgan really knows how consistently profitable they are or aren’t. I will concede the point that they have at least been a going concern over a very long period of time. Again, however, an exception that proves the rule.

      • 0 avatar
        Austinpowerless

        Actually, there are several Morgan shareholders who are not family members, and while concededly they don’t release the kind of figures that a public company does, the company’s profits or losses ( of which they’ve had very few in twenty years) are indeed reported in the press routinely. See, e.g., http://www.nebusiness.co.uk/business-news/latest-business-news/2011/07/11/morgan-motor-company-driving-up-the-profits-51140-29029721/
        As to it being one-tenth the size of Ferrari, um, yes, that was rather my point.
        Edited to add–we do agree, though, successful tiny car companies are very much the exception today, and have been for some time.

    • 0 avatar
      Lampredi

      Volkswagen is too busy sticking it to Fiat with its never-ending threats to take over Alfa Romeo. But Aston Martin *is* in need of a new owner, unlike Alfa Romeo, so a VW acquisition of the British automaker would be welcome.

    • 0 avatar
      CarnotCycle

      I think nobody touches Aston Martin with a ten foot pole because as a company it is a FUBAR operation. Look at the mess. Fourteen different packages across three, four different cars. They have as many models as sales.

      And on the end of the model range is…WTF? That Toyota iQ Cygnet thing. Who are they fooling? In any portrait of ‘real’ Astons that thing sticks out like a zit on a model’s face. Posers calling their Fiero with extra fenders a Ferrari have more street cred.

      Who but the truly stupid would buy a fashion-statement vehicle that advertises petty vanity, financial stupidity, and middling net worth all at once? Aston Martin thinks their customers are all those things pushing that Cygnet. And that tells you a lot about where Aston Martin’s problems are.

      If I bought Aston, first thing I’d do – after crying about being so stupid buying Aston Martin at all – is track down who all is responsible for the Cygnet. And fire each and every one.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “I’m wondering why no one of the “big boys” of the automotive industry, like Volkswagen, is interestend in Aston Martin.”

      Tkewley gave you the answer — AM is chickens**t to a major player.

      In 2011, Aston Martin’s revenues were about £500 million. Let’s convert that to about US$800 million.

      For a company such as Toyota, that’s slightly more than one day’s revenue. Even in the best case scenario, it provides minimal benefit, while the downside risks are great.

      To a private equity firm, a firm with that kind of revenue can be interesting. To a major automaker, it probably isn’t. And if you’re an automaker that already owns a similar brand, such as Rolls Royce, Maserati, or Bentley, then it makes more sense to invest your energies in convincing a potential customer to buy one of those, instead of adding yet another model to the lineup that requires considerable amounts of additional investment yet produces little, if any, benefit.

  • avatar
    tkewley

    In the modern auto industry, small makers like Aston cannot survive as competitive players without the backing and technical resources of one of the ‘bigs’ (in this case Ford). I’m afraid the company will continue to passed among venture capital firms and deep pocketed dilettantes in a long, slow slide into irrelevance and bankruptcy. Very much, in fact, like what happened to Aston in the Seventies. Frankly, like what’s happened to the company for most of its’ history…

  • avatar
    -Cole-

    “The company allegedly has reached a technical partnership deal with Daimler AG’s Mercedes.”

    Allegedly when?

    http://www.autoblog.com/2011/09/27/maybach-and-aston-martin-alliance-talks-fall-apart/

    I guess they have the money now.

  • avatar
    BigMeats

    Wish I had some CAD skills. I’d love to see how that classic grill shape would transfer to an F-150.

  • avatar
    Bela Barenyi

    @tatracitroensaab & tkewley:
    Ferrari does make lots of money with merchandising, but their products/cars also have nice profit margins. And more important, their
    products/cars have healthy sales. It’s not a money pit for its
    parent and its not owned by its parent Fiat just for sake of owning
    it. Volkswagen might be different. I know that Bugatti is just a
    “prestige project”, a “pet project” of Piech, everybody knows that.
    In contrast to that, Bentley and Lamborghini are supposed to be profitable. And both brand’s technology can be sourced from VW’s
    huge parts bin. That’s also the reason why VW is so keen to offer
    SUV’s with a Bentley and a Lamborghini badge…

    The point I was trying to make was, that it would be easy for big concerns like VW or BMW to make Aston Martin profitable, as most
    of the technology could be sourced from the existing parts bin
    of said companies. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel. VW and
    BMW have suitable platforms, engines etc., so developing a new
    Aston Martin would cost much less. Or to it put differently: You
    can plainly “rebody” an existing Bentley Continental GT into an
    Aston Martin, so that you sell the same car in two different
    flavours.

    Not to be misunderstood, I’m not saying that VW or BMW or
    some other big concern should buy Aston Martin. I’m just
    wondering why no one of said groups is interested, as it
    would be easy for them to leverage their existing technology
    (platforms, engines) further with another brand and reduce
    costs furher per unit, as it would distribute the costs over
    more units.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Is there supposed to be some kind of meter used when reading the above?

    • 0 avatar
      tkewley

      The problem isn’t that your point wasn’t clear. It’s that it is, as a matter of proven fact, wrong.

      Ford engineered the VH platform for Aston, which was intended to be extendable/reusable (ie. relatively inexpensive per unit), and developed two very good cars from it (the DB9 and Vantage) which sold well relative to their market. The engines in those cars were based on mass market units (the V12 is little more than two 3 liter Duratec V6s stuck together). At the end of the day, however, the company STILL wasn’t profitable. Ford would have been (and is) making far more money simply selling another 10,000 Mondeo/Fusions. The economics remain the same whether Ford or VW or BMW is pushing the buttons – selling high volume cars is much more profitable than chasing niche markets.

      • 0 avatar
        blowfish

        is similar to running a McD, wendy as compare to high end rest IE Nobu.

        running AM u need cutting technology & research, whatever fit for Commander Bond is the norm for the gadgets.

        cranking out jelly beans mondeos & taurus dont need as much undivided attention from the top to bottom.
        for a mondeo owner to find to wong screw or un-cordinated trim they kind of expected and the salesman would kindly provide a small notepad for the new owner to add it to the long list of deficiencies. or told him/her just count the blessing as their new car can sail hom to & from work under its own steam, a wong screw or trim should be the least of their worries.

        whereas for an AM a wong screw & trim color could precipitate a heart attack for the owner and sales consultant.

        one time my nouveau riche fnd was upset when his newly under warranty merc 300se had traces of fresh oil accidentally spilled on the side of his valve cover when the technician refill after the oil change!
        i suppose when the oel drips down it will cause annoying odour when reach the high temp exhaust manifold, or ruin whatever gaskets along the path.

        AM could be ideal for merc, since her flag ship Maybach just never reach the commotion as flying off the shelf so to speak nor sold like hot cakes on the contrary is sticking to the showroom floor like klingons.
        Or merc should have joined the bidding war when bimmer & Veedub wanted to divvy up the RR, as considered as pride of old blighty and envy of the world.
        RR did teamed up with BMV earlier to develop their VANOS or variable valve timing.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VANOS

        vw did came to the party late but able to bite off bentley, the germans didnt want a protracted law suits which could tied up 3 parties for many yrs to come. is kind of a triple lose scenario.

        bentley according to car mags did blow a small fortune into the 6.75 v8 rr engine inorder to make her fly under the smog’s of radar screen or similar to the breatherlizer test for cars! some say to this day there isn’t another old fashioned single cam OHV V8 can rival the power when turboed.
        rr mechanic says these v8 are bomb proof up to 1/2 mil miles without need any work to them.
        wonder if the newer rr or bentley still retain the anachronistic hydro-pneumatic suspension?
        bought from Citroen motors? I personally find them slow to react when braking.
        is opening of hydraulic fluid, rather than push on a circuit.
        But I have only driven a 67 & 75 shadow.
        perhaps the newer ones were better upgraded.

      • 0 avatar
        Bela Barenyi

        You seem to just ignore things which don’t fit into your argument.
        The Ford-argument does not fit or is wrong, because Ford had to “develop” from scratch the said platform and engines for Aston Martin.
        In contrast to that, BMW and Volkswagen already produce V12, V8 engines and also produce cars with these engines. Why would VW
        or BMW develop bespoke platforms and engines, if they already
        have suitable platforms and engines ? It’s the whole point of the
        argument that you use already existing tech and save costs.
        But I guess, you will resort to deny the existence of V12 and V8
        engined cars of the VW Group and BMW…

    • 0 avatar
      Dimwit

      It’s because the antidiluvian nature of the production facilities. It’s old, hand made and expensive. If there was an advantage to artesian craftsmanship in vehicle manufacturing they’d be near the top of the list after Morgan. Problem is that they make too many cars to make it work well. Not enough to be successful, enough to be expensive to build.

      It’s funny how everyone ragged on Ford but they were the best owners after DB to own AM. This is and always was an ego exercise in car building. You have to have very deep pockets and other sources of income. This is the equivalent of owning a sports franchise.

      • 0 avatar
        tkewley

        Ford was the best owner of Aston, full stop – the DB9 and Vantage were the best products the company ever sold by a wide margin. David Brown famously joked that he would be more than happy to sell an Aston to a friend at cost, as that was considerably higher than the asking price…

      • 0 avatar

        Right. And things aren’t just about the name alone with sports-car automakers. Some semblance of a brand’s identity has to always survive. Aston Martin is more quintessentially British than any other car company I can think of, and it has a very strong brand identity. Despite its kit-car-like construction methods (and Cygnet notwithstanding) Aston’s only low-point was when it was covering Volvo key fobs in leather and passing them off as Aston Martin ones (which was Ford’s fault). Other than that, the brand has really always kept its originality and heritage. And while it may work for Rolls-Royce or Bentley, I’d rather see Aston Martin die gracefully than wind up manufacturing corporate-platform vehicles with BMW V-12s or Volkswagen W-16s stuffed in their engine-bays. Or, worse yet, modified Corvette engines.

        I’m very glad that General Motors is no longer considering purchasing Aston Martin.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m actually seeing a bit of a parallel here between Bentley and Aston-Martin…just a bit. If you recall that Bentley and Rolls-Royce were essentially making the exact same cars up until around 2002 (with maximum luxury going to the latter brand, and sporting character going to the former). When VW and BMW went their separate ways on ownership, BMW had Rolls-Royce to start from scratch with the new Phantom. However Bentley continued to make the Arnage under the old architecture and even revived the Brooklands and Azure nameplates for the coupe and drophead iterations. Those models, unlike the Continental range, really had nothing to do with VW. The 6.75L V8, the platform, the infotainment system…all of those could have been used with or without VW’s ownership. The only way VW’s technology seemed to be involved was with the keyless-entry system and the color LCD in the instrument cluster. Aston Martin sort of reminds me of that. Like those Bentleys of yore, Astons cars are somehow delightfully old-world: they don’t employ corporate parts-bin sharing and their interiors are essentially kits of items (especially the pop-up nav system) put together, with the emphasis on the unique driving experience.

      Here’s the difference. With Bentley, there was room for a new, less-expensive line of vehicles to slot under the pre-existing ones, a line of vehicles that could essentially be Volkswagen-Group products with Bentley coachwork: the Continental GT, GTC and Flying Spur models, which share their platform with the VW Phaeton, and use VW and Audi engine blocks. That just isn’t so with Aston Martin. Could VW give them an AWD SUV on the Touareg/Q7/Cayenne platform? Perhaps. Could BMW give them a luxury sedan that’s based on the 7-Series? Maybe. But what then? What semi-mass-produced, profitable product could be made for Aston Martin that wouldn’t dilute the brand image? Certainly nothing worse than the Cygnet.

      But still…

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    At least the Aston Martin brand will survive under new ownership and to the delight of its fan base.

    Ditto with Chrysler and its by-products, now under Italian ownership.

    It’s just too damn bad we couldn’t do the same for GM enticing its new owners to be Indian or Chinese.

    Nope, we, the people, are still stuck with that albatross around our collective necks, much to the delight of the UAW.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Everything comes back to this crap doesn’t it? I know this is the internet where anyomity has bred hatred but really, why do you hold onto that “free market” crap so hard? 130 years ago we discovered without a wage floor our natural surplus population would drive down the value of labor to starvation. Then we found out collective bargaining was beneficial to workers but also society as a whole as a market economy is driven by poor and middle class buyers not the wealthy capitalist. So keep railing on semi-skilled labor that makes good wages. Ignore the fact that you’re getting robbed by the capitalist class. It’s easy to piss on the next guy down than try and piss on the next one up, right?

      That being said, doesn’t Ford still hold a small share of AM?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Look at the contracts that killed Hostess and get back to me about collective bargaining being good for anything other than corrupting people.

      • 0 avatar
        tkewley

        Leaving aside that I disagree with nearly all of this narrow minded rant, what in the world does any of it have to do with Aston Martin?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        tkewley, the author of that rant is pro-union. Aston Martin has a small but loyal following and under foreign ownership will continue to live on like Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo did, to fill a niche and keep their fan base happy. That is a good thing.

        The author also mistakenly believes that the majority of Americans supported the bailout of GM and the UAW. The majority did not support any kind of bailout to anyone, anywhere, at any time, and GM least of all. Bailouts of failed companies and unions at taxpayer expense is never a good thing.

        If bailouts are such a good thing, I would like to see Obama bail out Hostess since a lot more people buy Hostess products than they do GM products.

        In America unions have proven to be a scourge on society and business and their membership is declining. But unions are getting exactly what they deserve and as they collectively bargain more businesses into the grave and more of their members out of a job, it will eventually dawn on those left standing that it is better to work WITH an employer to be profitable rather than AGAINST their employers, driving them out of business.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “But unions are getting exactly what they deserve and as they collectively bargain more businesses into the grave and more of their members out of a job, it will eventually dawn on those left standing that it is better to work WITH an employer to be profitable rather than AGAINST their employers, driving them out of business.”

        Well put HDC.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Ah,yes “highdesertcat” just remember that same albatross, pays a lot of much needed tax money.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @ tkewly…..You are so right..Time for me too shut up.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        mikey, that albatross will never pay enough of much needed tax money to even come close to the amount of money the taxpayers of America poured into that corpse.

        Why isn’t Obama bailing out Hostess, since a much larger portion of the populace buys Hostess products than US auto industry products? Bailing out Hostess would benefit everyone. Bailing out GM and Chrysler was only for the benefit of the UAW.

        {Careful here, bud, because I bought a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit built by the UAW and imported from Detroit. Had GM been foreign-owned, I might do the same for them. Difference is, Chrysler is foreign-owned, providing jobs for Americans building cars for Americans, in America.}

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Narrow-minded? Tell that to Ricardo and Amartya Sen, twonof the greatest economists who I drew upon to explain it. I know that TTAC draws a somewhat dim-witted crew on economics but trust me if you ever bothered to read you would find I am correct.

        As for Hostess, the company was threatening with a bankruptcy if the union didn’t concede more benefits. Hostess will reopen, just under new ownership. The unions had little to do with the actual losses, Hostess took massive loans and their wall street backers pulled the plug when the gravy train stopped running. If you think unions are a scourge you need only look at 19th century worming conditions to know you’re both wrong and verging on imbecilic.

        As for the GM bailout, who cares if it was popular? Neither was civil rights. Just because a majority of idiots disagree doesn’t make them anymore than idiots. Though I would point out that there is inconclusive evidence that the majority disagreed. At the time it may have been a slim majority bit most evidence I’ve seen suggests it was widely considered a positive as it kept people employed and handed a huge chunk of GM ownership to the fund that wanted it to succeed. Then again I could beat you over the head with evidence and you would still resist.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Unions are something like 6% of the working population, without their representation I don’t see 94% of other jobs resembling something out of Sinclair’s The Jungle. Like many things, unions were once necessary and have now outlived their necessity in US society.

        I am no economist, and I doubt any other posters are, but if you wish to see the 19th century look at Foxconn in China. Prison like dormitories, deplorable safety conditions, and forced overtime… leading to documented suicides. This situation happens not because of the absence of trade unions but because of the collusion between greedy businesses and corrupt government. I believe if these workers even tried to strike or unionize, the Chinese gov’t would black out the area and move in with troops to forcibly quell the situation, al la Tiananmen Square.

        In US society such conditions would not be possible, not with the extensive rights laws and alphabet soup of federal/state agencies just waiting to shut you down if you screw up. Until government colludes with business AGAINST workers as in China, the 19th Century isn’t coming back anytime soon… and unions no longer have a need.

        By the by a strong and uncorrupted Justice Department might want to investigate both sides of the Hostess situation because I have no doubt both sides broke laws and should be charged, but good luck with that…

        http://www DOT forbes DOT com/sites/susanadams/2012/09/12/apples-new-foxconn-embarrassment/

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        28 – That’s obtuse view as real wages have declined with the reduction of labor’s organization. The government’s current role as in OSHA is to limit abuse, not benfit workers and we’ve suffered the consequences of it. I guess this is ultimately where all american winged arguments go. The left distrusts large corporations as they have a large and long history of being abusive while the right is paranoid over the government suddenly changing course after 236 years and becoming a totalitarian dictatorship though there is a clear line that western governments are becoming more liberal with each generation.

        For an example like Foxconn I point to capitalism using surplus labor. It actually exemplifies my argument for me. But when we can’t even agree on the basic tenets of reality, why even bother?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “That’s obtuse view as real wages have declined with the reduction of labor’s organization”

        Very much disagree, the decline of real wages has been brought about by the globalization of industry. Whether one caused the other is certainly an interesting point to discuss, but unions only work in a marketplace with few options for the customer. The US steel industry up until World Word I, and the US auto industry post-war to the 1970s are perfect examples of relatively captive markets. Once enough competitors come in at a lower cost, and assuming both are of similar quality, why buy the union product?

        “For an example like Foxconn I point to capitalism using surplus labor. It actually exemplifies my argument for me.”

        Arguing Foxconn is merely capitalism in action using surplus labor?
        My you make me smile sir, sardonically might I add. So wage slavery is merely utilizing a surplus in available labor? Was that the case in the Chicago meat packing plants or the Pittsburgh steel mills around the turn of the century? How about incidents of actual slavery, was that simply finding new use for an otherwise weak or idle population?

        I imagine a pendulum, swing too much one way and the smallest percentage of wealth is allocated to labor, swing too much the other and too much is allocated toward labor and the enterprise fails. Workers and owners must seek the middle ground for both to prosper and thrive, especially in a global marketplace.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        28, why argue with someone who is convinced they are right in their convictions and are diametrically opposed to the view of the majority of Americans who loathed the bailouts to any and all entities, especially the failed UAW?

        Xeranar is just trying to sell the rest of us on his point of view. Pro-union people need to do that, just look at that failed Wal-Mart strike they orchestrated this past Black Friday.

        Not worth the effort. Say your piece and let him stew in his own juices.

        As a Twinkie and Ho-Ho fan, I think that nationalizing Hostess would be in the best interest of the Nation, not the unions. There are currently four companies interested in buying the assets, two are Mexican, one is Canadian and the other is Flowers. None are interested in hiring the current employees or taking over their union contracts. All they want to buy is the name, trademark, proprietary secrets and proprietary equipment and move them to their own existing facilities.

        The Hostess bakeries (facilities) affected will be sold as real estate only. This could change, conceivably, but I cannot find any logical way why it would. The products can be baked anywhere and trucked to their destinations like they are now.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Thank you for the advice.

        I haven’t followed the Hostess situation closely so I’m not up on the details. Shame all of those people lost their jobs but like any other liquidation there are things of value to be had and those other competitors look as if they will pickup some new assets at fire sale prices. If I were a business owner I wouldn’t be interested any hiring any union minded employees either, but law permitting I would invite them to re-interview for their positions in a new non-union company (assuming I bought the company to restart it as a bakery in the first place).

        What will probably happen is the assets will be sold off Gordon Gekko style and new Ho-Ho production will come from another country, one where union politics won’t be tolerated. To be honest as much as it would have kept jobs in the USA I’m glad the gov’t did not attempt to take over another business, and add another albatross to it’s neck. Maybe that’s what the union was hoping for?

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Globalization has fundamentally little to do with capitalism except that Ricardo warned against this exact situation. The world will always have surplus labor. The wages if allowed to fall will go below subsistence. So we have to artificially keep them higher. Then we turn to Sen and find out that the principles of demand-side are right. So no matter where our products come from we should be expecting near equal pay as that is what capitalism in visioned. It isn’t about driving down labor costs in principle.

        Then again you two are stupid enough to blame unions for hostess, so why bother? There is zero evidence that unions caused this. Yet you spout this stupidity as if it’s the truth because you seem to be corporatists.

  • avatar
    BigMeats

    Who is that little man and why is his sweaty palm on the fender?

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Bertel…

    You mentioned: “All eventually found out that building supercars without the backing of a huge company is a losing proposition, and that recessions can be murder if expensive cars is all you have.”

    This may depend on who the little company is, even without huge company backing. If the little company tries to make a “me-too” product, then what you said is true: they’re finished in a downturn. But if the little company makes an exceptional product for high-rolling customers in a unique market niche, then the opposite may be true: they are virtually recession-proof.

    Others have mentioned Ferrari, which has indeed been enormously successful, now selling 1000’s of cars every year. But I was thinking of both Koenigsegg and Pagani, who are not only little, but minuscule by comparison. Neither have large corporate backing, and both are booked out with orders for their cars years in advance.

    All this would suggest that Aston Martin, despite the best efforts of Ulrich Bez, is putting out an often quaint, antiquated, me-too product that is easily surpassed by Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar, and Lamborghini, — to say nothing of higher-priced offerings from Mercedes, Audi, or BMW.

    ————–

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      ” Neither have large corporate backing, and both are booked out with orders for their cars years in advance.”

      Having lots of orders is great, but it does not in any way guarantee that they are making any profit.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Silvy…

        Yup, you’re right. But at $1.5M per car, they probably don’t have to sell a great many to keep the lights on and the heating bills paid (^_^)…

        —————–

    • 0 avatar

      I think the only way tiny car companies can function is if they can somebody else to build their engines. Pagani, which only has 50 employees, has a close relationship with Daimler and sources AMG-modified engines. Morgan gets them from BMW and Lotus from Toyota. And even Ferrari spreads its costs in-house by supplying engines to Maserati. Koenigsegg seems to build its own engines apparently.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Sprocketboy….

        That’s a very good observation. I don’t know what building an engine is, as a fraction of building a whole car (on average), but I’ll venture that for Koenigsegg it may be 50%, and for Pagani it may be at least that to buy from mercedes/AMG. Maybe someone else among TTAC B&B Commenteers might have better data.

        But even Koenigsegg, who now do build their own, did get their start and established credibility by first using Ford V-8’s. Even now, the engine block is made for them in the UK (I believe), but they assemble the rest of it in Ängelholm. (BTW: Great pistons: gold/ceramic tops with Teflon skirts!)

        —————

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’m not up on supercar design, but I think it would be sweet if an automaker allowed a list of engines from different companies to be used in the product I was purchasing from them.

        So let’s say Aston’s new owners restructure it more like a coachworks and stop building their own drive-trains, just focus on the chassis and luxury appointments. So maybe your engine choices would be a Ford V8, a Ferrari V8, or a Koenigsegg V8 at different price points.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        28-Cars-Later….

        I agree. And I feel that way about transmissions, too.

        If you’re spending $200K-$1M for a car, you should be able to choose:
        1) Manual (meaning with clutch pedal)
        2) SMG (e-Gear for Lamborghini’s)
        3) DCT (PDK in Porsche-speak)
        4) Torque-converter automatic.

        —————-

  • avatar
    baygus

    Excellent.. that is, if M & M take it out.

    The Indians now have a greater respect for real British culture than the British public- which has been destroying its own nation since the disaster of 1945.

    • 0 avatar
      BigMeats

      Meaning what…. rigid class systems like each other?

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      It’s also a matter of national pride for Indian businessmen. The ability of their companies to take over firms in their former colonial ruler basically sends a powerful message that India has “arrived” as a player on the global stage.

      The UK government has also been actively trying to promote increased two way trade and investment between Britain and India – it makes a lot of sense, considering the common language and common legal system and the fact that they’re both members of the Commonwealth. For Indian businesses, it’s an easy way to get a toe hold in Europe, for British businesses, it’s a way to reduce their exposure to Europe, win win.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Car brands know no boundaries, besides where would Aston be today in most peoples minds without the Bond franchise..? Frivolous niche machine. Perhaps the Corgi Bond toy made more profit margin?

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Tata owns Jaguar and Land Rover. They could buy this and go for the British Trifecta.

    • 0 avatar

      That true. It’s ironic that India used to be Britain’s colony.

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        At least it will still have more of a British culture than VW or BMW buying it.

        I definitely don’t see a problem with India buying Aston Martin. Aston could also move upscale a bit, higher margins lower unit sales but I think they’d have to start sourcing their engines somewhere.

        Eh, there’s lots of directions to take this company, I don’t buy the idea that it takes a huge multi-national conglomerate to make a go of it. I think that’s just the easy way out, not the only way.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        wallstreet….

        It’s even more ironic that America used to be Britain’s colony too…

      • 0 avatar
        ranwhenparked

        @NMGOM

        All things considered, I think the British gave us a pretty good start.

  • avatar

    I wonder how Ford mismanaged to ruin its own company by owning “crown jewels”. As I understand they had V12 and RWD platforms at hand and still could not manage to offer V12 RWD real luxury Lincoln when Lincoln still had some cache left. What was the point of buying AM and JLR if they were not able to capitalize on investment and image to pull Lincoln, Ford and Mercury upmarket to increase profit margins. Who are these guys, where do they learn mismanage companies and destroy brands? Where are leadership skills of modern American CEOs? The only thing Ford and Lincoln benefited from “crown jewels” are D3 platform taken from previous generation Volvo S80 which already was mediocre when was new and AM style grill on new Fords.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      Ford also got the DEW platform, that underpinned the Jaguar S-Type, Lincoln LS, and Ford Thunderbird. The present-day Ford Mustang and Jaguar XF both use modernized derivatives of that architecture.

      The real failure there was not following the LS with an improved second generation on the same platform. It was a great car, and brought Lincoln quite a bit of unfamiliar positive attention. Unfortunately, it was an evolutionary dead end, and the brand regressed back into mediocrity with the Zephyr.

      • 0 avatar
        Dimwit

        There’s nothing wrong with what Ford did with AM, JLR and Volvo. All of them contributed to the bottom line after investments by Ford improved each of their businesses. In JLR and AM’s cases, it saved them from bankruptcy. It’s just unfortunate that Ford itself ran into problems sufficiently that they had to use them to generate capital.

        Ford, I’m sure, would love to have not made those decisions if it didn’t have to!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I was about to say something along the lines of Dimwit. I think the near bankruptcy of Ford in 2005/2006 really hurt the company more than they let on. Mulally basically came in and said we’re all over the place with PAG (Premier Auto Group), lets divest from them and become one Ford. So they slowly sell off PAG, thus Lincoln is starved from unique models and becomes the new Mercury (albeit it with better styling and materials than Mercury).

        Drove an ’11 MKZ (which I kept calling Zephyr to the salesman) on Wednesday as my brother is still looking at used cars. Very nice ride with impressive power and much better interior materials vs Fusion… its 2x the car at a better used price (Ford dealer had 20K on this one, 38K on the clock).

        Lincoln might come back, and if it does hopefully it doesn’t alienate older buyers/fans as Cadillac did.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Ratan Tata indicated in a recent edition of Autocar magazine that he’d love to buy Aston Martin but that it was carrying so much debt that they couldn’t make the numbers add up. I suspect that’s the reason no big player is offering to buy it yet…… If the private equity firm gets it I suspect they will look to pull the debt levels down and then sell it. Question is how do you do that. Maybe by getting Mercedes tech cheap and then selling it to Daimler at a later date?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    And the erosion of the West continues, doesn’t anyone care?

    • 0 avatar
      BigMeats

      Sure, but not as much as we care about short term profits. And what else can anyone expect when the non-productive population keeps growing and resources keep shrinking? Everyone is increasingly in hoarder mode.

      China has a big advantage over the West because they’ve *always* been grimly overpopulated and they don’t waste a second’s thought on building fairness or sustainability into their system (beyond the token efforts for Western media). Any domestic blow-back from their rapaciousness is ably handled by their police and army. We’re not there yet.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Good points BigMeats. Hopefully we’ll never get to the point where police or army are wholesale murdering us for resisting, but we do need to lose the past fifty years of societal nonsense and get back to our roots as a nation.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “And what else can anyone expect when the non-productive population keeps growing…”

        Yeah, that’s the main problem the country has. It’s them, them, them! No mention of Fed policies which devalue the currency and make the environment ripe for an explosive growth in inflation.

        No mention of a decade old two front war. Is there an end in sight, I don’t know but I do know trillions of dollars have been spent and I wonder what if anything we’ve gained.

        No mention of politicians who willfully and knowingly pursue policies detrimental to the health and well being of the United States. After all, if their lobbyist wants it, it must be good.

        There’s plenty of blame to go around and solving the problem means looking at the entire problem. Cut out the bad, grow the good. So while I agree with you in part, the country has much bigger issues.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Well I care, but evidently those in power don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “And the erosion of the West continues, doesn’t anyone care?”

      You’re equating the “erosion of the west” with a niche car manufacturer whose had financial difficulties for much of its existence. That it’s yet again on the ropes should not be a surprise. Remember correlation does not equal causation.

      As I see it the country has a number or problems and each politician and for that matter party has his/her sacred cows. In order for us to move forward, we, the people must force those cows to the slaughter and demand that our leaders act for what’s best for the United States, not a particular party, special interest, or individual politician.

      Until we can come together and eject the chaff on both sides of the aisle we won’t be operating on all cylinders.

      Oh and can we please have a thorough and complete audit of the Fed. How an institution with that kind of power is allowed to do whatever it wants is beyond me.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Are there any more British-owned auto manufacturers left? The same could happen here.


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