LONDON -- Aston Martin reported a wider first-half loss and steep cash outflows as the U.K. automaker invested in the launch of its debut SUV, the DBX, which has started to arrive at dealerships.
Early signs from China, a key sales market for the all-important DBX, are positive, Aston Martin said Wednesday, without providing specifics.
COVID-19 has slowed the company's efforts to reduce dealer stockpiles of its sports cars. It will delay a resumption of production at its main plant in Gaydon, England, until the end of August.
The DBX, which started production during the second quarter, will have a positive contribution during the final six months of 2020, Aston Martin said.
The company reported a first-half operating loss of 159.3 million pounds ($206 million) and negative free cash flow of 371 million pounds ($481 million) as it ramped up spending for the launch, while the coronavirus pandemic kept showrooms closed for much of the period.
With the DBX in production, cash flow should improve in the second half, CFO Ken Gregor said in an interview. Overall, business improved in June, though it's too soon to say if a recovery from the pandemic is under way.
Aston Martin has struggled in the less than two years since going public, with high inventory and poor sales of its core sports cars undermining efforts to replicate Ferrari's stock market success.
In the months since Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll bailed out the automaker early this year, it has announced a CEO change and said it may need to seek additional funding.
The $189,000 DBX is being assembled at a factory in St Athan, Wales, built on the former site of a defense ministry airfield.
The automaker is looking to enter the ultraluxury SUV segment occupied by models such as Lamborghini's Urus, Bentley's Bentayga and Rolls-Royce's Cullinan.
The company's effort to reduce dealer stockpiles on its other models has been frustrated by the COVID-19 crisis, and will now extend into 2021, Aston said.
"We are restoring exclusivity to our sports cars," Chairman Stroll said in a video posted on the company's website. "Rebalancing supply to demand, which in the short term means lower wholesale volumes but necessary for future success."
The company's cash balance was 359 million pounds ($466 million) at the end of June, with 430 million pounds of liquidity available.
Tobias Moers, the former head of Daimler's Mercedes-AMG performance division, will replace Andy Palmer as CEO on Aug. 1.
Moers, 54, will count on the DBX to boost sales in markets including China, where wealthy consumers' preference to be driven by chauffeurs in roomier vehicles has helped high-priced SUVs catch on.