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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 December 2007, 06:10 GMT
Aston to unveil new design centre
By Jorn Madslien
BBC News, Warwickshire

Aston Martin on the road
Aston wants to raise production to speed up deliveries

Luxury car maker Aston Martin is to unveil its new design studio in Gaydon, Warwickshire, just nine months after the firm was sold by Ford for 479m.

The building is central to Aston's plan to expand production at the Gaydon site under its new owners, a consortium headed by racing guru David Richards.

Chief executive Dr Ulrich Bez wants to raise output from 7,000 cars per year to cut waiting lists.

"I would like to supply cars to customers in a decent time," he says.

New markets

Fresh demand from wealthy customers in China, Russia, South Africa and New Zealand is driving Dr Bez's desire to expand.

The most powerful Aston Martin yet, the V12 Vantage RS with 600bhp, was unveiled at the event.

In China, Aston has just opened its first showroom in Shanghai and will open one in Beijing this month. A Moscow showroom was also opened this year.

"We want to grow, and to have higher visibility," Dr Bez tells the BBC.

"We are building the brand, we are speeding up."

This should be done by making more cars to supply new markets, rather than by transferring cars from dealers in established markets, Dr Bez explains.

"We don't want to take cars away from anyone else," he says.

However, the Gaydon development, which is centred around a dedicated Aston Martin production facility that opened in 2003, is not merely about raising volumes.

Ulrich Bez
Marketing tools that money can buy is not what I'm looking for
Ulrich Bez
Chief executive
Aston Martin

"We do not only increase our design capacity with this. We also improve our design quality," says Dr Bez.

Gaydon and the 1,500 people who work there will remain central to the company's future. Aston makes its own engines, underframes and chassis at the site.

However, there is every chance that some of its future models - including the 200,000 Rapide which will arrive in about two years - will be made outside the UK, though most likely within the European Union.

Marketing efforts

Tuesday night's launch party, which is described as "an evening of architecture, art and cool cars", will be used to showcase Aston's latest concept car.

The event will be attended by a string of Aston Martin's customers, including many celebrities.

David Richards
David Richards and his consortium paid 479m for Aston

Such exclusive events are central to Aston Martin's discreet marketing strategy.

"Marketing tools that money can buy is not what I'm looking for," Dr Bez says.

"What you see of us is what we are, not what you see from marketing."

Consequently, Aston Martin's "marketing spend is, when compared with other companies, very small".

In addition to the race days the company arranges for its customers, it also sends out a glossy magazine that relies heavily on the marque's association with other luxury brands, featuring modern design and architecture, and glamorous locations.

In line with its philosophy of success by association, Aston Martin will occasionally be a sponsor - and not just of the fictional British agent James Bond.

"We are sponsoring [the operatic tenor] Placido Domingo's world tour," says Dr Bez. "He called me personally."

"Then of course I invite [some customers] to the concerts. I offer them something they cannot buy.

"This fits together," Dr Bez continues.

"How else would you sell a car like this?"



SEE ALSO
Aston Martin mulls overseas plant
23 Nov 07 |  Business
Aston Martin UK's 'coolest brand'
13 Sep 07 |  Business
Aston Martin sold to UK-led group
12 Jun 07 |  Business
In pictures: History of Aston Martin
09 Mar 07 |  In Pictures
Budget Aston car takes on Porsche
01 Mar 05 |  Business

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