Since taking over as Aston Martin's CEO in August, Tobias Moers has focused on driving the inefficiency out of the British luxury brand's manufacturing operations. Combined with the successful launch of the DBX SUV and strengthened ties with Daimler — Moers' former company — Aston appears to be navigating out of choppy financial waters. Although the company's losses quadrupled in 2020 — mostly because of the pandemic — its first-quarter results released in early May show a marked improvement, with revenue more than doubling in 2020. Moers spoke with Automotive News Publisher Jason Stein. Here are edited excerpts.
Aston Martin righting ship, eyeing EV future
Q: You started last August right in the middle of a pandemic. How has the first year gone and what adjustments have you made?
A: I came in in August and we assessed the business and how we run our operations. And we set out a program to get the company in a different place, a better place.
Everything kind of related to lowering the break even of the company. We created a program strategy plan. We'll be using the platform of the DBX for improving our portfolio and for getting to a larger portfolio.
I think the company is in a different place than when I came in. It's much more energetic. Regarding manufacturing and assembly, for example, four weeks ago we shut down one of our assembly lines here, put all our sports cars down one assembly line. You know, it works quite well, much better than before. It's much more efficient. We're about 35 to 45 [percent] more efficient across the company.
How is the chip shortage affecting Aston Martin?
Sometimes it's good to be very small! We monitor that very closely, but at the moment I don't see anything on the horizon. It's OK in the short term.
What percentage of global sales come from the DBX?
At the moment, it is in the ballpark of 50 percent and I think it is going to stay there. That's kind of the strategic perspective.
As the DBX becomes more established, will sports cars remain a focus for Aston Martin?
Absolutely. Aston Martin is a sports car brand. In our projection for the future — 2024-25 — our goal is 10,000 vehicles with 50 percent being DBX and variants.
Aston Martin has a tradition of building vehicles that deliver sensations that you just don't get in other brands of luxury performance cars. How is a silent-running electric Aston Martin going to appeal to the brand's traditional buyers?
This is very similar to what everyone is facing. I think in our segment, or when it comes to electric vehicles, the brand and the experience around the brand is even more important than ever before. You have to provide an experience when you drive the car, but it's not given that you don't get any sense of feeling in an electric car. Electric drive can do that. I know how [we are] going to get there. I'm not scared about it because I think that that's going to provide us an excellent future.
How involved is Lawrence Stroll, Aston Martin's major shareholder, in the management of the company?
Lawrence is usually here about one day a week. We discuss the marketing and the strategy and the brand. He's the executive chairman of the board, so we run the financial updates with him and how we engineer the car, what we're going to do on the operations side, as well as the manufacturing business.
You know the Mercedes team well, having spent 25 years at Daimler. Can you describe the working relationship between Aston and Daimler?
With the new technology transfer agreement we signed in October, it's a total different leverage for us. They are a 20 percent investor. That's great. They provide an electric drive platform as well. And it's a good relationship. It is better than ever before.
Should we think that technology, design and engineering assistance only flows from Daimler to Aston? Or does Aston help Mercedes-Benz on some of its own projects?
At the moment? I think it's just one way. Probably, it could be different in the future, but we should not overestimate ourself at the moment. So we have to keep up and see what comes.
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