Aston Martin mulls site for for new plant, says source

By REUTERS | 9 December 2015

LONDON: Luxury British carmaker Aston Martin, due to decide in the next few weeks where it will build a new plant, is choosing from four sites in Britain, the United States and the Middle East, said a source familiar with the firm's thinking.

The loss-making company is planning a major expansion program in a bid to return to profitability which will see volumes of its existing product lineup of sports cars boosted as well as a new crossover utility vehicle known as the DBX.

A source said on Tuesday that two British sites, one in the US state of Alabama and one in the Middle East were being considered by the board of the mainly Italian and Kuwaiti private equity-owned firm.

"The board is reviewing the options and will make a decision by the end of the year or the first few weeks of January," the source said.

Aston Martin declined to comment.

The firm said in October it had narrowed a list of 19 possible locations to six to build up to 5,000 DBX models. It is also planning to widen the niche range of Lagonda cars it builds.

The carmaker has an existing plant in Gaydon, central England, where it builds conventional sports cars.

Lawmaker Andrew Mitchell said late last month that a roughly 80-acre site in his central England constituency of Sutton Coldfield was in "pole position" to be picked by the automaker, if the right terms were agreed, creating up to 1,000 jobs.

"I think we have an excellent chance and it would be very, very welcome," he told Reuters.

When asked, the source said Sutton Coldfield "was presumed to be one of the UK sites."

Aston Martin, which has been loss making in each of the last four years, secured 100 million pounds (RM644mil) from its owners in 2015 with a further 100 million to be drawn over the next few months to help fund its expansion.

The firm has said that any financial support from the government and whether it decides to use a complete car platform from 5 percent shareholder Daimler to build the DBX were important factors in the final decision.

Famous for making the DB5 sports car driven by James Bond, the firm, which is not part of a wider automotive group, has struggled since sales nosedived following the 2007/8 financial crisis and due to a recall in 2014.

Last year the firm sold 3,661 models, down from a 2007 peak of nearly 7,300 cars, but is aiming to sell around 15,000 models by the turn of the decade thanks to the new and refreshed range.