Aston Martin’s Palmer touts power of independence

DETROIT — There are six brands in the uppermost echelon of the automotive industry. Plan on just one more, says Aston Martin Lagonda CEO Andy Palmer.

Among the elite six, Palmer counts Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren and Rolls-Royce. Lagonda, Aston’s new bespoke ultraluxury brand, would boost that to seven in 2021 when it launches its electric SUV, Palmer said Tuesday at the Automotive News World Congress here.

“I’ll make a bold prediction that 10 years from now, we will not see any new luxury brands establishing a credible position in our market,” he said. “Conversely, under pressure to achieve greater profit through volume, we might see at least one of the established luxury brands exiting into the premium segment, in pursuit of that one more car for the mother company.”

Palmer, a former Nissan executive, has been with Aston since 2014. He hasn’t forgotten what some people told him when he began at the storied automaker: “That it was impossible to become profitable without being a division of an OEM, that without the platform and technology provided by a mother ship, a company like Aston Martin will never be competitive.”

Baloney, Palmer said, using a barnyard term.

“I would contend Aston Martin Lagonda and Ferrari have proven that there’s a business model that is the exact opposite,” he said. “A business model [that] is seeing independent luxury companies flourish. One that focuses on exclusivity and scarcity rather than being forced by the mother ship to chase one more car to contribute to the quarterly results.”

Following its initial public offering in October, Aston Martin is embarking on a pivotal year, as its lineup expands with two additions at both ends of the product spectrum.

At one end is the Valkyrie, a hypercar developed with Red Bull Racing. At the other is the DBX, which is to be Aston Martin’s first crossover.

Said Palmer: “The commonality there, of course, is that they’re beautiful cars and they’re luxury cars.”

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