A potential buyer was likely looking to reuse the Vanquish platform for a new small-volume supercar.
Aston Martin was on track to sell all the tooling, drawings and IP (intellectual property) for its V12-engined Vanquish, produced from 2012 until last year, to a ready buyer, but Automotive News Europe reports that the deal has fallen through. The British luxury automaker was initially slated to sell all these items to a buyer rumored to be either automaker Morgan or an unnamed Chinese company, for $26 million, but the sale’s demise has contributed to a sour 2019 outlook for the automaker not helped by a predicted decline in deliveries of new cars to dealers.
“The commercial position on this contract has deteriorated with significant doubt remaining over the outstanding receivable,” the automaker said in a statement, Automotive News reports, without singling out the Vanquish as the subject of the deal.
Automotive News Europe was able to confirm that the sale concerned “legacy IP,” pointing to the V12 flagship.
“Whilst this short-term wholesale correction is disappointing, retail sales have grown by 26% in the first half, production for DBX, our first sports utility vehicle, and Aston Martin Valkyrie remain on plan,” the automaker said in the same statement.
What would the buyer have done with the tooling — produce more Vanquishes? Aston Martin’s assembly lines aren’t quite the kind where sheetmetal is fed into one end of the line, and a fresh Vanquish pops out on the other side a couple hours later with gas in the tank — these are still handmade cars. The tooling would have been useful for producing more spare parts or other parts, instead of a brand-new Vanquish with the logo of a Chinese automaker on the hood. But we have to admit that mental image of a Chinese automaker collecting all the tooling with a few 18-wheelers in the U.K., shipping it to China, and restarting production of the Vanquish there is pretty amusing. And it’s essentially what happened over a decade ago with MG Rover: a Chinese automaker bought the assembly lines and all the presses for a number of MG and Rover models, shipped them to China, and with a few changes (Rover became Roewe) restarted production there.
But that was a different deal with different goals. Morgan or the rumored Chinese buyer were not looking to churn out new, identical Vanquishes under their own name, no matter how hilarious that would have been.
The sale would have included the tooling, IP rights, technical drawings, and 18 months of support from Aston Martin.
Nevertheless, the buyer would have been able (and possibly planned on) producing a very similar car with a similar chassis, but likely a different engine. That’s what would have made the deal worthwhile to a small-volume automaker who could have reused the Vanquish platform.
One other thing: $26 million does not sound like a lot of money when it comes to tooling for a particular supercar, nor does it sound like a lot of money to an automaker that produces several thousand cars per year. But the demise of the sale has dented Aston Martin’s financial outlook enough to receive a mention in its corporate communications to shareholders.
While there are some clouds on the horizon the automaker expects its outlook to improve significantly once its new SUV enters production — the DBX is expected to be a cash cow in the same manner as SUVs have turned around other small-volume luxury automakers that are too numerous to mention.
“DBX is on track with the new St. Athan facility now commissioned and manufacturing the first pre-production cars,” Aston Martin said in the same statement. “First orders will be taken at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, California, in August, with the global launch in December 2019 and start of production is Q2 2020, as planned.”
Meanwhile, if you’re in the market for all the Vanquish tooling, call up Aston Martin and give them an offer. Oh, and bring a trailer.
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