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Here to stay

Lots of negativity surrounding Aston Martin at the moment, on the back of the recent launch of two cracking cars.  The Vanquish and DB9 are highly rated by the media yet the attached caveat stipulates that it can’t last forever.

The lack of confidence regarding modest sales and future finance is understandable but remember that these new Astons are excellent to drive, sound glorious and look more beautiful than any other car produced today.  Mate that to a brand image second to none, in the luxury goods market not just high end car market, and you have a marketing dream.  Dynamite.

Cars at Aston’s level are generally aspirational and emotional purchases, usually City boys with bonuses to fling at whatever car looks best, makes them look good and raises their status.  Cue Aston Martin.  I would even suggest that many high value fashion buyers don’t even have much knowledge of cars, only what is perceived as ‘must have’ and acceptable.

They’ve weathered the worst recession the world has ever seen and emerged with a world class line up to boot.  Sure, a tie-up in the future would be beneficial but it will happen only after a long process of seeking out the right partner/buyer, when Bez feels the time is right. 

So who could offer Aston a crutch?  Mercedes SLS underpinnings could be a fantastic basis for the future range, though I feel JLR stewardship would be preferable, especially given that the forthcoming Jag SUV could be jointly developed as an Aston, presumably based on the new Range Rover Sport.  Don’t rule out the ever circling VW whose knack of funding and steering purchased minnows would benefit Aston hugely, in a Lambo way, though perhaps not in a re-skinned Phaeton way…

So ease off Aston please, it’ll be fine.


Three Amigos – Lotus to JLR?

Every publication at the moment reveals the latest rumours regarding the demise at Lotus.  Truth is, no one has a clue what’s going on, but just as they were beginning to show signs of real progression, with new, improved models and model lines, everything seemingly goes wrong.  To us at least. 

Image     Image

So what next?  DRB-Hicom appear to be spinning plates until someone comes up with an answer, hence the radio silence.  But I have a remedy.  It’s a long, long shot, but a JLR purchase of Lotus could benefit all parties.

Firstly, the idea of mating another historical British brand to those of Jaguar and Land Rover is appealing from a PR perspective, if merely a romantic notion.   With three brands covering different markets, and demographics to a large extent, JLR ‘lifers’ could be gained. 

Tata has turned JLR around relatively quickly maximising profit margin from relatively modest sales compared to the giants.  That would be the only way to keep Lotus successful without going more mainstream, and JLR’s ability is proven.  Lotus would fit under the JLR global umbrella well with such a prestigious name and would gain long term credibility through association with its big sisters, not to mention the ability to stroll through open doors to new markets already forged.

The two companies already share a future vision, of lightweight aluminium technology, not to mention previous collaboration on various projects including Lotus electric range extender technology, which currently resides in an XJ.  In addition to this, both companies place ride and handling as their dynamic priorities, a shared ethos which would see them slot together without much change in direction.

As for model synergy, the Jaguar C-X75 could provide modular elements of its mid-engined hybrid set up to a new Esprit, should it be required, as per McLaren with their one-size-fits-all monocell. The forthcoming F-Type could even provide the basis of a new Elan, more stripped out, harder, lighter and cheaper.

Lotus would have the opportunity to dump the Toyota lumps and use the new JLR supercharged V6 and turbocharged 2.0 I4 tweaked to suit their driveability targets.  If a front engined Rapide-style Lotus GT was ever to surface, they could mix-and-match any of Jaguar’s current or future platforms.

I believe the next big step after a merger could involve the creation of a city car, to be developed by Lotus who have consultancy form, and possibly seeing a new brand name as to not dilute either brand.  And no, this would not be a re-skinned IQ.  The very thought…..

So, you read it here first, Lotus to JLR.  And they wouldn’t even have to change the name.