Aston Martin's Jeremy Main
In addition to building the DB9 and Vanquish, Aston Martin will challenge Porsche's 911 with its new, small V8 Vantage that debuted last week at the Geneva auto show. Total production of the three models is expected to rise to a record 5,000 cars a year in 2006,. The V8 Vantage is expected to account for 3,000 of those sales.
Main spoke with Automotive News Europe's Richard Truett at Aston Martin's headquarters in Gaydon, England.
Will Aston Martin retain its coveted exclusivity once it begins producing 5,000 cars a year?
Definitely. By any automotive standards, that's a tiny volume. And if you compare us with Porsche, which makes 60,000 or 70,000 vehicles per year and 25,000 to 30,000 911s per year, we are looking at 5,000 vehicles spread across three different variants. It's a tiny penetration across the market.
Is Aston Martin immune to the weak dollar and other economic turbulence?
No one is immune. It hits us as well. In terms of currency fluctuations, we'll be paid in dollars from our US sales, and if the exchange rates change and we are not fully hedged, we're going to be hit.
In terms of the capability of our customers to buy cars, it's not unusual to have the Aston as the fifth or sixth car. It's not exactly a distressed purchase. These sorts of people tend to be fairly robust to downturns, and so our market doesn't downturn in the same way as the general market does.
How do you improve quality?
Every single day I lead a quality meeting where we get feedback from customers, information back from dealer service operations, from the production line and from test vehicles. We make sure anything that comes up is immediately sorted out. Quality is very much a focus on what we do.