Aston Martin's U.S. stores at risk due to new crash rule, dealer says

(Bloomberg) -- Aston Martin stores in the U.S. will be unprofitable and could close if the sports-car maker is unable to get an exemption from crash standards that take effect next month, a top dealer said.

The average Aston Martin store will lose money if the carmaker can’t sell the DB9 and Vantage, two models that don’t comply with the new side-impact crash rule, said James Walker, chairman of the automaker’s U.S. dealer advisory panel.

Without convertible models, which won’t meet the standard by September 2015, all the brand’s dealers would be “in the red,” Walker wrote in a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration petition.

Aston Martin spokesman Matthew Clarke said he had not seen the petition and therefore could not give an immediate comment.

Next month, U.S. regulators will begin implementing an additional crash test to protect passengers from sideways collisions into narrow fixed objects such as utility poles and trees

Aston Martin last year requested exemptions for the DB9 through August 2016 and for the Vantage through August 2017.

"The financial viability of Aston Martin dealers is very much in question," wrote Walker. "If dealers make the decision to shutter the franchise, a very likely outcome, the impact on employment is significant."

One of the few premium auto producers not part of a larger manufacturing group, the 101-year-old company's independence has hampered its ability to fund new models, including the next-generation DB9 and Vantage, both of which have been delayed.

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